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In State of the American Workforce, Gallup reports only 30 percent of workers in the U.S. say they are ‘engaged’ in their work and “the ratio of ‘engaged’ to ‘actively disengaged’ employees is roughly 2-to-1.” (Gallup, 2013: p. 8). The result is that “70% of American workers are ‘not engaged’ or ‘actively disengaged’ and are emotionally disconnected from their workplaces” (Gallup, 2013: p. 12).

Why is this important? Gallup says (pp. 9-10):

Engagement makes a difference in the bottom line (e.g., higher productivity, profitability, and customer ratings, less turnover and absenteeism, and fewer safety incidents).

Managers who focus on their employees’ strengths can practically eliminate active disengagement and double the average of U.S. workers engaged.

[Managers must know to implement] different types of workers need different engagement strategies.

Engagement has a greater impact on performance than corporate policies and perks.

Employees are not prepared to engage customers (i.e., only 41% of employees felt that they know what their company stands for…).

What can companies/organizations/leaders do to improve engagement? Gallup offers six solutions (p. 11):

Use the right employee engagement survey… to collect specific, relevant, and actionable [metrics] for any team at any organizational level.

Focus on engagement at the enterprise and local levels… [once] the tone is set from the top down.

Select the right manager… with the right talent for supporting, positioning, empowering, and engaging their staff.

Coach managers and hold them accountable for their employees’ engagement… [and] consistently make employee engagement part of [the] formal review process.

Define engagement goals in realistic, everyday terms.

Find ways to connect with each employee… Managers should [know] that every interaction with an employee has the potential to influence his or her engagement and inspire discretionary effort.

In The Great Employee Handbook‘s “a final word” Studer reinforces the need for leaders to actively role model engagement because of their “key impact” on those they supervise (pp. 211-212):

I have found employees take their boss home. The family knows who you are. They know what their spouse or mom or dad thinks of you.

Once when a person introduced me to speak at a large conference he said, “Quint Studer has received lots of awards.” My statement when I began my talk was that the best award a person can receive is when people go home and tell their family, “I work for or with a good person.” That is the pebble that impacts every drop of water in the pond.

As leaders and employees in schools, companies, or organizations our charge is the same and our roles are all important. Do not underestimate the difference you can make in creating conditions that foster and nourish a school/organization full of great employees.

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Reposted from June 26, 2013.

Gallup. 2013. State of the American Workforce. Available as a PDF online here.

Studer, Quint. 2012. The Great Employee Handbook. Gulf Breeze, FL: Fire Starter Publishing.

Our mission at Studer Education is to provide students with a great place to learn, teachers with a great place to teach, and parents with confidence that their children are getting a great education. Visit us online at http://studereducation.com. Studer Education is a division of Studer Group, ranked for the sixth straight year on the Best Small and Medium Workplaces by Great Place to Work® and a recipient of the 2010 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.