If Not You, Who? How to Crack the Code of Employee Disengagement

Employee Engagement … it’s all the rage.  Why?  Well, let’s start with the cold hard fact that per Gallup, 87% of global workers are disengaged.  Basically, this means that the vast majority of people in the world are going to work, sleepwalking though their day, giving companies little to no discretionary effort, and doing what they have to do to get by.  Doesn’t sound very productive, does it?disengagement

What is the definition of employee engagement?  Engagement occurs when workers trust leaders and feel an emotional connection to your company—the same way they did their first day on the job.  And the payoff is enormous.

The Case Is Undeniable

Reams of data exist that show the correlation between profitable revenue growth and employee engagement.  Companies in the top tier of employee engagement outperform their peers by 147% in earnings per share and have a 90% better growth trend than their competition.

The benefits of having engaging workers are vast and go well beyond bottom-line results.  Engaged workers also:

  • Provide better customer service;
  • Stay longer;
  • Make fewer mistakes;
  • Recommend your company as a great employer to their family and friends;
  • Are more productive; and
  • Are great ambassadors for your brand.

However, in the face of all this powerful data, many companies are clinging to the status quo and not doing much to improve their culture and their bottom line.  A recent report states that while 90% of C-suite leaders say it’s important to have an employee engagement strategy, only 25% of companies actually have one.

Why Are Companies Failing?

In my humble opinion, I believe little progress has been made because, for the past 3 decades, leaders have outsourced employee engagement to Human Resources (HR).  This is not a dig against HR; strategic HR people are wonderful.  However, although HR “owns” culture, they don’t “own” culture.

The definition of culture is How We Do Things Here.  There is no group of people who set the stage more for How We Do Things Here than your senior leaders.  Senior leaders “own” culture.  Therefore, in order for you to succeed, HR, you must engage your senior leaders in your employee engagement strategy.  They must be a part of the team that champions the strategy and all engagement-related communications must come from your CEO.

How do you get leaders to engage in employee engagement?  Data.  Executives love numbers!  Why?  Because you don’t get to be an executive without learning a thing or two about numbers.  Executives present numbers to their boards all the time and are judged on their ability to ensure the numbers are directionally correct.

Therefore, gather all of the compelling data you can find that shows the correlation between employee engagement and profitable revenue growth, and share it with your senior leaders.  Savvy leaders will get it and will agree to partner with HR to improve your dysfunctional culture.

Is That It?

Yes, this is where you begin.  Employee engagement is not a program or an initiative led by HR—it is a strategy.  Successful employee engagement strategies are championed by senior leaders and fundamentally shift how you operate your day-to-day business. Make the shift today and you can begin realizing the benefits tomorrow.

Jill ChristensenWith 3 decades of executive consulting, speaking, and most importantly, real-life, in-the-trenches global Fortune 500 business experience, Jill Christensen’s view is radically different.  She shares with listeners that although HR “owns” culture change, they do not own culture change.  Employees will not engage and stay unless senior leaders and supervisors fundamentally change the way they manage employees from day one onward.

Christensen has served as the head of global internal communications at both Avaya and Western Union.  She has a Six Sigma Green Belt—which she earned by catapulting satisfaction with Avaya’s global onboarding process from 38 percent to 88% in 6 months.  She also authored the best-selling book, If Not You, Who’s Cracking the Code of Employee Disengagement, and works with the best and brightest leaders around the world to improve employee productivity and retention, customer satisfaction, and revenue growth. She has been named to the Top 100 Global Employee Engagement Influencers of 2017.


1 thought on “If Not You, Who? How to Crack the Code of Employee Disengagement”

  1. Great stuff and I agree 100% that the burden must be shifted from HR.

    Personally I take it a step further and think the onus to improve Employee Engagement should be handed to ….the Employees (with Leadership and HR in a supporting, championing and facilitating role).

    OH…and I love the opening line – “Employee Engagement … it’s all the rage.”
    I actually wrote a Seussian poem entitled “WE MUST ENGAGE, IT’S ALL THE RAGE” earlier this year.

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