According to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace Report, only 15% of employees worldwide are engaged in their jobs–meaning that they are emotionally invested in committing their time, talent and energy in adding value to their team and advancing the organization’s initiatives.

The current business environment and organizations across the globe are faced with more change than most can handle, they are required to grow faster in less time. They are forced to grow quickly with fewer resources–to do more with less.

It is a common understanding the vast majority of leaders know that employees are a company’s most important asset. But in reality, that is only true when the majority of the workforce is fully engaged in their work. If not, they are either adding minimal value or actively working against the organization.

There are three types of employees in any organization:

Engaged (15% of the workforce). These employees are loyal and emotionally committed to the organization. They are in roles where they excel and where their talents are truly leveraged. They enthusiastically invest in their work and take on responsibilities outside of their job description. They are generally more likely to become emerging leaders and will stay with an organization much longer then a disengaged employee.

Not engaged (67% of the workforce). These employees can be difficult to identify because they are often relatively happy and satisfied in their role. However, they do the bare minimum and are not invested in the company’s mission, vision, values or goals. They are less likely to be customer-focused and are not concerned about productivity or company profitability. These team members are both a threat and a great opportunity because with the proper approach, they can be transformed into engaged employees that thrive in the organization.

Actively Disengaged (18% of the workforce). We have all worked alongside these people. They are consistently negative, create a toxic environment, dominate their manager’s time and are usually more vocal about their unhappiness. What’s worse is they are often subject matter experts well-respected in their unique skillset.  And because of that, they often have significant influence over others. These employees can easily spread toxicity throughout an organization and can rarely be transformed into true “A” players.

Most studies point to the fact that employee engagement has a direct impact on productivity and profitability.

5 Powerful Steps to Improve Employee Engagement

How do managers know who is engaged?  Their team members need to be able to confidently state the following:

  • I know what is expected of me and my work quality.
  • I have the resources and training to thrive in my role.
  • I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.
  • I frequently receive recognition, praise and constructive criticism.
  • I trust my manager and believe they have my best interests in mind.
  • My voice is heard and value.  
  • Clearly understand the mission and purpose and how I contribute to each.
  • I have opportunities to learn and grow both personally and professionally.

The steps for improving engagement aren’t complex, they simply must be prioritized. Which means engagement must be a core function of the manager’s role.

All else then falls into place.

Step 1 – Put everyone in the right role. Everyone has their own skills and experience and should be in roles that align with those.

Step 2 – Give them training. No manager or leader can expect to build a culture of trust and accountability, and much less improve engagement, without setting the team up for success. This means providing the proper training and development while removing obstacles.

Step 3 Task meaningful work. Engaged employees are doing meaningful work and have a clear understanding of how they contribute to their company’s mission, purpose and strategic objectives.

Step 4 Check in often. Today’s workforce craves regular feedback, which or course leads to faster course correction and reduces waste. Use both formal and informal check-in strategies, and use them every week.

Step 5 Frequently discuss engagement. Successful managers are transparent in their approach to improving engagement, they talk about it with their teams all of the time.

The principles are not complex, but must be prioritized.  Companies that get this right will drive greater financial returns, surpass their competitors and easily climb to the top of “the best places to work” lists.

About Nancy Pearce

Nancy Pearce is responsible for and oversees all of the operations at her Zions Bank retail branch. She is also responsible for the coaching, development of her team members and business lending. Prior to Zions she worked for Wells Fargo Bank for 11 years. She has an associate’s degree from LDS Business College and took additional classes in psychology at Salt Lake Community College and the University of Utah. In her free time she loves to spend time with her children, spend time outdoors, work in the yard, hike, boating, tubing, skiing etc. She also loves to travel when she can.