Winning the talent war through employee engagement

June 25, 2014 Teresa Wilkins

A commentary in the New York Times, Why You Hate Work, caught my attention. It suggests what employers should do to get employees involved, committed, enthusiastic,and passionate about their work.

The number of employees that feel disconnected on the job is staggering. A Gallup study released at the end of last year, Northern America Leads World in Workplace Engagement, notes that only 30% of employees in America feel engaged; globally, (based on responses from 142 countries), only 13% of workers feel connected to their workplace.

Underpinning employees’ disconnection is burnout, attributed to the demand for our time, increased competitiveness, a leaner post-recession work force and the rise of digital technology exposing us to a “flood of information and requests that we feel compelled to read and respond to at all hours of the day and night.” A related survey by Harvard Business Review in conjunction with The Energy Project, explored what influences people’s engagement and productivity at work. The outcome of the research identified four core needs that would make employees happy, engaged, and productive:

  • Physical: through opportunities to regularly renew and recharge at work
  • Emotional: by feeling valued and appreciated for their contributions
  • Mental: by having the opportunity to focus in an absorbed way on their most important tasks and define when and where they get their work done
  • Spiritual: by doing more of what they do best and enjoy most, and by feeling connected to a higher purpose at work

It comes as no surprise that in the surveys mentioned above, a happy, engaged workforce translates to productivity increases and profitability for the firm. The way employees feel at work “profoundly influences how they perform.” Investing in the core values expressed by employees is the first step employers can take to keep workers engaged, sustain their workforce, and ultimately win the talent war.

In a follow-up piece, You Don’t Have to Hate Your Job, six simple solutions are suggested for keeping employees happy and engaged in the workplace. Do you measure employee engagement in your organization? Have you found that increased engagement leads to greater productivity, performance, and retention? Do you think it’s possible or desirable to think of a workplace as “humane”? How is your organization meeting the core needs to keep employees happy at work?

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