Engagement Levels … Cause For Concern?

Engagement levels continue to be a concern for most organizations. Employee engagement hasn’t rebounded to post 2008 levels yet, but we continue to ask employees to do more with less.

The causes of disengagement range across a wide spectrum of issues. But the focus here today is to look at a few more closely and analyze what we should be doing differently to address the lagging levels of engagement. If HR can solve for the engagement issues, the gains reaped in productivity and the savings from retaining employees would be material.

Engagement levels have tanked since the Great Recession, for a number of reasons. The culprits that we’ve identified are obvious, but impactful. We have found the lack of engagement is a response to layoffs, budget cuts, stagnant wages, lack of advancement and mobility opportunities, and most importantly … the lack of empowerment and autonomy given to employees.

The overwhelming finding that we came across was the feeling across various employee groups that they had lost the autonomy and the control to do their work effectively. Interestingly enough, we also found that leaders in this economy were more prone to trust seasoned veterans to turn the ship around, than new employees with innovative ideas.

This has profound impacts for how engaged our employees are and how we’re managing opportunities for them to grow and develop. During the Great Recession, it was easy for leaders to cut budget dollars attributed to talent development, but it was also short sighted. It’s created a back log in the talent pipelines of organizations.

Younger, up and coming talent hasn’t seen the movement or the development that they were looking for, and as a result we’ve seen engagement levels correspondingly drop as well.

To revive lagging engagement levels, disengage your leaders. Ask them to start focusing on talent while keeping an eye on the business, but allowing their people to do the work. If you want to engage your employees, give them the opportunity to make an impact. It’s what they’ve been waiting for and what your organization needs to differentiate itself from your competitors.

Give them the insights and the tools to do their jobs, coach them to excellence in execution, and step out of the way of their innovation.

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