The Lonely Life of the Engaged Employee

The Lonely Life of the Engaged Employee

– By Derek Carter

Engagement is getting a lot of press lately, which is great, but many people still struggle to put their finger on exactly what it is, let alone do something to improve it in their organisation. One blogger I came across compared it to love: “it’s hard to explain what it is, but when you’ve got it, you just know”. Well, a fat lot of good that definition does us!

In this, the first of our blog posts on employee engagement, let’s try to clarify the whole thing once and for all. I’ll start by sharing our view on what engagement isn’t before sharing our thoughts on what it actually is. Then I’ll present some recent, and shocking, numbers.

Firstly, engagement is not the same as employee satisfaction or happiness. This is a common misunderstanding – even a Forbes reporter misunderstood the language in this article recently.

The new report she was writing about (Gallup’s “State of the Global Workplace Report 2013”) measures engagement, not happiness and a happy employee is not necessarily an engaged employee (you’ve likely known a few perfectly happy employees that still manage to do very little work or make the people around them utterly miserable!).

Well then, what is engagement? At thrive, we define engagement in an organisation as “the level of motivation and commitment demonstrated by its employees” – in other words how much of their discretionary effort are they spending to make life better for their customers / patients, clients and colleagues, even when it’s difficult to do so.

With that definition in mind, why the title of this blog post?

Well, you may already know that Gallup (through the use of its Q12 survey) categories people as either “engaged”, “not engaged” or “actively disengaged”. What you may not yet know is the average breakdown of these ratings were presented in this year’s report as 13% engaged, 63% not engaged and 24% actively disengaged.

Only 13% are engaged in the average workplace!? That’s a pretty lonely place alright.

Just think about it this way: if this was an “average” 11-player soccer team, you’d have just 1.4 people busting their backsides to beat the opposition, almost 7 people putting in some effort (if the ball lands near their feet) and 2.6 people trying to burst the ball or score for the other team!!

The Shocking Truth About Employee Engagement!

Still, all is not lost and in the next blog post in our engagement series, we’ll explain why so many companies fall short in driving engagement across their teams and what they can do about it.

Share your thoughts! 

What definition of engagement have you found that works for your organisation? Does everyone get it, at every level? Leave a comment below with your own insights or questions.

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