My last post was about boring jobs—why employers need to make them more interesting and some ideas on how to do this. I got great comments from several readers. And it turns out that “employee engagement” is a hot issue that has garnered a fair amount of attention from HR and management researchers and thinkers.
A 2006 Gallup study, for example, found a strong correlation between employee engagement and organizational innovation. It described three types of employees: engaged, not-engaged, and actively disengaged. This third category – defined as employees who are not only unhappy, but who daily act out their unhappiness and undermine their co-workers – was particularly noteworthy to me as a workplace investigator and coach. It was also scary: the study estimated that 15% of U.S. employees fall in this category. I’ve seen these folks many times.
Yet interestingly, another study discussed in a recent Wall Street Journal blog shows that disengagement does not necessarily follow from the fact that a job is boring. Rather, employee engagement results from three things: (1) the employees are given opportunities to grow; (2) the organization is committed to making a difference in the world; and (3) the organization’s leaders exhibit values and behaviors that engender respect.
Disengagement does not necessarily follow from the fact that a job is boring.
The task of creating engagement falls squarely on leaders and managers – but it’s in no way an impossible one given that most organizations do have a mission that can change the world in some way, however small. Mostly, it requires developing a detailed intention to engage employees in this manner followed by attention to what needs to be done. Communication is a key component.
Would such actions make an impact on the actively disengaged 15%? I don’t know–do any of you? If it wouldn’t, management needs to address this problem in some other manner. This kind of disengagement is toxic. ~AS