Mihalicz_Engagement SurveysA recent study released by Gallup called “The State of the American Workplace” revealed some pretty discouraging facts. According to the survey, employee engagement levels are stagnant among U.S. workers. In years past, we relied on “satisfaction surveys” to gather this information. Today, engagement is a widely accepted approach used by human resources to filter employees into one of three categories: engaged, not engaged and disengaged.

Engagement Categories

  • Engaged. This is the preferred group. Employees are considered to be engaged when they work with a passion and have a profound connection to the company. These are the employees who are typically driving innovation, going the extra mile, and doing what it takes for the company to be successful.
  • Not Engaged. These folks still come in to work every day and do their job, but it’s as if they are sleepwalking through the workday, doing what needs to be done, and nothing more. These employees lack passion and energy needed for success.
  • Actively Disengaged. These workers are not only unhappy with their present situation, but they act out or express this unhappiness through their behaviour. They are counterproductive in the workplace and they undermine others who are trying to do well.

What Does It Mean?

The survey finds that a whopping 68 percent of American workers are not reaching their full potential. With over 50 percent Not Engaged and 18 percent Actively Disengaged, that leaves only 32 percent of U.S. employees fully engaged at work. What a tremendous waste of human potential! Whether we call them “satisfaction surveys” or “engagement surveys”, the point is the same and we keep learning the same thing – employees are not satisfied, and they are clearly not engaged.

Unfortunately, with only one third of employees actively engaged at work, organizations have some real problems. Employee engagement surveys are consistently negative, and despite well-intentioned initiatives, organizations typically fail to resolve the situation. So what is the solution? It is important to get under the surface of the problem by understanding managerial engagement. This will enable organizations to get to root cause instead of dealing at the symptomatic level. If we understand the factors getting in the way of managers being effective, we can more clearly understand how to treat the overall problem.

Exploring Managerial Engagement Levels

How do we measure managerial engagement? One way is to look at the amount of time they spend doing value-added work versus work that is not value-added. What are the main factors that drive managers and support them in doing their job? What are the challenges they face that prevent them from spending time helping employees’ focus on their priorities – lending support, coaching and training so that they will be engaged? Finally, what roadblocks prevent managers from making themselves available, establishing feedback loops, and helping employees engage in meaningful discussions to become more engaged in their job?

Regardless of how diligently CEOs try to improve employee engagement, it’s never going to be enough unless managers have the tools and resources to prioritize their time effectively. Only then will they be able to bring about meaningful change to the work environment for their employees.