Are You Part of the 85% Disengaged at Work?

Hi guys – what’s up! How’s your week going?

Mine’s alright except I’ve been doing a lot of thinking recently.

Oh no – here we go…

Wait! Hear me out.

No, I’d rather go play hopscotch with Peggy the one-legged giraffe.

Image result for funny giraffe

… Look this’ll be quick.

Fine, but hurry up – Peggy’s waiting.

OK I’ll try…

You see, I read a pretty concerning report recently, on the state of the workplace, and of management practices used in many organisations.

It was orchestrated by Gallup (one of the world leaders in data analytics and consulting for big corporates when it comes to brand perception, attitudes and behaviours from customers, to employees to the broader public).

The report is aptly named: “Dismal Employee Engagement Is a Sign of Global Mismanagement

Image result for dilbert
Ha Ha Ha.

You have to subscribe to access the full report BUT the executive summary is readily available and well worth a read.

Some of the issues highlighted are:

  • 85% of global employees are not engaged or actively disengaged at work.
  • Just 14% of Australian/NZ employees are actively engaged (This number is 31% for US/Canada).
  • There is significant evidence to suggest that employee engagement and performance has been mismanaged across the globe.
  • Most businesses rely on old-fashioned practices such as annual and semi-annual reviews to provide feedback and evaluate performance, however in the new workplace, employees are after purpose, development opportunities, ongoing feedback and training.
  • Employees are now after a career coach rather than a boss, managers who leverage their strengths instead of focusing on their weaknesses.

What an interesting report!

The statistic which I found most interesting was that only 15% of the workforce are “engaged”. In other words, 85% of us are either “actively disengaged” or “not engaged”.

Image result for asking her to marry me
Um… wrong “engaged”.

What’s the difference?

Examples of active disengagement:

“Fuck this place.”

“I hate that guy (points to boss).”

“I went home the other day after work and sat in the shower with all my clothes on.”

Examples of non-engagement:

“Thank God it’s Friday.”

“Meh, that’s how it’s always been done.”

“Another day, another dollar.”

The report highlights that there is a vast disconnect between employees and how they are performance managed which causes the apathy and resentment to set in.

Ultimately, a big chunk of whether you are engaged or disengaged from your work comes down to your manager.

Image result for darth vader
“So, I met my new boss today… seems like a nice guy, bit of a clean freak, doesn’t talk much.”

So if only 15% of all global employees feel “engaged” – then has management failed us?

So who’s fault is it?

Well, before fingers are pointed and voices raised, there is strong evidence from the report which points to out-dated business practices and evaluation processes.

Traditionally, in our parents generation – you anticipate and are expected to stay in the same organisation for decades, climbing the corporate ladder and paying your dues as they come due.

But as the world moves more and more into the high-speed digital generation, employees want more out of their employers.

These days, employees want to feel engagement to the “work” they are doing, that the work provides a sense of purpose and there are paths for not only professional but also personal development.

Image result for bad managers
Ah Dilbert, gets me every time.

More so, employees want to feel valued that the contribution they are providing, is recognized and appreciated.

But what about the employer?

From an employer’s point of view, it is now increasingly more difficult to provide feedback, evaluations and opportunities when the world of today is so different to the world of tomorrow.

At the managerial level, most reviews occur semi-annual or annually – which gives both parties to lay out the good, the bad and the ugly throughout such time-frames.

But as stated before, this is not enough in today’s world.

Managers are expected to be coaches, mentors, confidants.

The best performing teams I have been involved in throughout my career always has the manager who first and foremost is a people person.

Image result for dictator
Would LOVE to work under him!

They understand that work and life is interconnected, that their employees want their job to be a part of their identity and empowers them to achieve this.

Think back to when you worked under someone who understood you as a person, your strengths and weaknesses, who used those strengths and harnessed those weaknesses to really help you achieve.

Did they make you accountable for your own success? Were they clear in their expectations? Did they provide ongoing and consistent feedback, coaching and support?

Well of course, but that’s common sense right?

Wrong! There are a multitude of idiosyncrasies that come along with managing people.

A part of the problem is that employers do not have the proper systems in place to decide who becomes a manager, those which are more naturally gifted to manage people toward higher performance than others.

Image result for eenie meenie miney mo gif
Managerial selection process.

In some organisations, there is still the belief that you are promoted based on your tenure as opposed to your talent. Or if you know the right people, then doors will open.

But unfortunately, many managers are ill-prepared personally and professionally to handle the greater responsibility.

I have been in teams where there is a clear line set between “them” and “us”. Compare this to where “them” is a part of “us”.

The latter far outperformed the former.

The communication lines are clearer, expectations are clearer and goals are set and achieved in real-time. Engagement naturally rises.

But the sad reality does remain – only 15 out of 100 of us spend most of our waking hours feeling connected with our employer.

This number will not change overnight, but I feel that it will change.

Image result for change obama
Yes! Make America Great Ag… oh… oops.

Because we live in the best of times – when commerce, healthcare and technology has never been as advanced, when life expectancy has never been so high and in an age when new jobs, professions and opportunities are created seemingly every day.

And you know what, if you are part of the 85%, the “disengaged”, the apathetic then remember this – no one wakes up in the morning aiming to do a poor job, people want to achieve at work, no one wants to do a bad job.

So it’s often the case that if you’re not performing or not feeling engaged at work – then maybe the job doesn’t fit you, not the other way round.

Be part of the 15%.

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  • steveark

    Well said. I’m of the parents generation and I did not see a single thing you stated about millennials and work that didn’t jive with my own thirty plus year Boomer career. I’d say barely 15% of my coworkers were truly engaged at work. They did not complain as much as snowflakes do now but they felt pretty much the same. Me and the other fast movers who promoted rapidly and attained high earner status were highly engaged and loved work because we were rewarded with dollars and increased power in the organization. We felt engaged because we believed the prosperity of thousands of employees rested in our decision making. One of the timeless problems of work is that there are less of the truly fun jobs than there are of the soul sucking ones. The goal should be to make every job engaging which is in no way a new concept. It is just a crazy hard problem to solve.

    • The Frugal Samurai

      Thanks steveark, I agree with you – my own personal opinion is that the percentage of engagement hasn’t really changed throughout the generations but the types of jobs and job descriptions have.

      Take being a bank teller for example, previously it used to be just take the customer’s money, record it and give them a receipt, all the while having a conversation on a human to human level. Now the bank teller’s job is more to up-sell this and cross-sell that, not because they want to, but because the bank teller job has evolved.

      Change used to happen at a much slower pace, now it’s constant and everywhere. Some like yourself grabbed the opportunity and thrived – others… well that’s why we have reports like these.

      But change and evolution will never cease.

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