The global workforce is getting restless. In fact, it seems to be distinctly dissatisfied.

Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace report revealed that 51 percent of US employees are disengaged, and this is by no means news. Engagement levels have barely budged over the past 15 years and sometimes have even declined.

The UK is in a similar state with 28 percent of employers acknowledging they are struggling to keep employees engaged.

So, what are the symptoms of this disengaged workforce?

Although they may seem passive and apathetic, the disengaged are kryptonite to business success and innovation: 48 percent will not hesitate to clock in late or leave early, 41 percent exceed their break quota, and 55 percent have no qualms about browsing the internet on company time.

They are also more likely to steal from the company, dabble in destructive office politics, drive customers away, and court head-hunters. In fact, Gallup estimates that these disgruntled employees cost the US up to $605 billion each year in lost productivity.

The malcontent delivery man will not try to redeliver your parcel, a despondent estate agent will not hesitate to complain about her ineffective team to new tenants, and the unhappy barista will not smile unless the boss is looking…you get the picture!

But engagement means more than happiness. A ping pong table, Friday night drinks, and a gift voucher on your birthday are nice to have, but will not necessarily keep you engaged. Similarly, even if your annual survey reveals high levels of job satisfaction, a merely satisfied worker is unlikely to go the extra mile outside of work hours.

Employee engagement is the instinctive connection and passion an employee has for their company’s vision, which translates to shared goals, self-motivated accountability, and optimum performance.

Organisations boasting top levels of employee engagement report double the rate of success, 22 percent higher productivity, 65 percent lower turnover, 48percent fewer safety incidents, happier customers, higher revenue…and that’s just for starters!

The business impact is clear and thankfully more companies are beginning to realise their human power deserves the same gold star treatment as customers and shareholders.

Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends report showed almost 80 percent of executives rate employee experience as a top priority. Rather than just focusing on employee life cycle, value proposition, or happiness, employee experience takes a holistic view of all interactions and judgements an employee has about the company.

Numerous models identify fundamental ways to engage your workforce and all are relatively consistent. Deloitte’s Simply Irresistible Organization model neatly pinpoints the five factors that supercharge employee experience when brought together with a strong dose of cross-organisation collaboration and stellar internal communication.

1. Trust in leadership

The average Glassdoor employee workplace recommendation is 3.2 out of five. Companies that rank higher cannot be differentiated by sector, age, or size, but their leaders are committed to investing in people.

Ranked as one of Fortune magazine’s Top 30 Best Places to Work in America for 11 years running, mortgage giant QuickenLoans does certainly not view engaged workers as a nice to have.

Founder and chairman Dan Gilbert integrates employee experience into business strategy and culture, creating a positive and empowering workplace to maximise performance. Gilbert and CEO Bill Emerson even go to the extent of personally leading an eight-hour orientation for new staff, ensuring everyone feels valued and understands their personal contribution.

Employees look to leadership for direction, inspiration, and stability. They need their leaders to live and breathe the company’s purpose, clearly communicate goals, and champion their workforce.

2. Growth opportunities

Nobody likes to feel stuck. Companies investing in opportunities for growth through training, career mobility, and a dynamic learning culture show a clear devotion to their people with a knock-on effect on productivity, performance, cross-functional collaboration, and employee experience.

3. Supportive management

An April 2015 Gallup study flagged that half of the US workforce has quit to escape bad management. Coaching and training is vital to develop these five skills Gallup spotted in bosses who consistently boost discretionary effort, loyalty, and profit.

  • They motivate their team
  • They push themselves to overcome obstacles
  • They drive a culture of accountability
  • They build trusting relationships
  • They make informed, unbiased decisions for the good of their team and organisation

Making feedback and performance management part of the routine also has a huge impact on increasing self-awareness, improving communication, and building resilient connections.

4. Meaningful work

Despite the hype around millennials’ sole rights over fulfilling work, research shows that all generations share a similar desire to make meaning. Self-management and small, nimble, empowered teams armed with the tools to make decisions will reinforce connection and help employees find purpose in their work.

5. Positive work environment

Your people spend a lot of time at work, so it’s vital to create an environment that suits your people and your organisation. Global tech company Deliveroo’s new, open-p lan HQ features padded phone booths for when staff need a quiet space and a games room to bring people together.

Meanwhile, TrustedHousesitters, the largest global house and pet sitting network, encourage employees to bring dogs to the office.

Your people also want to be respected, understood and involved. The current political and economic climate has pushed diversity and inclusion up the agenda, as executives worldwide recognise its impact on talent acquisition, brand, performance, and innovation.

Connect Mentors, the soon-to-launch online mentoring platform, is beginning to close the gap by matching diverse, ambitious talent with inspirational mentors and organisations. Email for more details.

Integrating all of these factors into an effective employee experience is no mean feat and only 22 percent of executives believe that their organisations excel at creating a differentiated strategy.

At Habit, we use Design Thinking to help companies identify the distinct values, intrinsic motivators and challenges of their workforce and create simple solutions to inspire and promote innovation. There is no one-size-fits-all, as every employee at every organisation has distinct drivers. We believe this is the root cause of the engagement crisis.

The expectations, needs and wants of employees are unique and constantly evolving, yet many businesses have not adapted.

Your human power is packed with potential and a human-centred, holistic employee experience strategy, backed by smart, digital tools to optimise productivity and connection, will transform them into passionate brand advocates ready to make your mission their own.

Are you implementing successful EX strategies in your company? Join this year’s awards to receive valuable recognition for your efforts. Enter the awards here.

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