The hidden elephant of human performance
With much talk about well-being at work around, implication and engagement are rarely mentioned. Engagement in its simplest sense refers to the relationship you have with your working environment and the strength of your connection to it. Or, offering a longer definition, engagement combines work enthusiasm, motivation and willingness to get involved in different projects with organizational citizenship and a positive attitude held towards the organization and its values. Of all psychological indicators, engagement (and not well-being) is the no 1 predictor of performance. Gallup studies of over 17 million of employees worldwide have confirmed that the higher an employee’s engagement is, the more productive, customer focused, and safety conscious he is, and the less likely he is to leave the company for a competitor. Business units with employee engagement scores at the 99th percentile have nearly 5 times the success rate than those at the 1st percentile. These are powerful and not counter-intuitive findings, yet what do we do about them?
I love shifting through the data. According to a recent study by Towers Perrin, only 21% of employees around the world indicate that they are highly engaged. Roughly, a quarter is actively disengaged, and 62% are only moderately engaged. The Gallup organization has been measuring employee engagement since 2000, and their recent report is even more pessimistic, placing worldwide engagement at 13%. Gallup estimates the annual economic costs associated with disengagement to be as high as £32 billion in the UK, €100 billion in France, and $370 billion in the United States.
So where does working in France position you in comparison to other worldwide citizens? One may think that the 35 hours working week, unemployment benefit and solidarity practices would offer sound protection from dis-engagement in the workplace, but the data is sobering. Engagement stands at astonishing 9%, well below UK, Germany and Morocco and at precisely the same level as Belarus and Bosnia. This leaves 91% of working population in France either not engaged or actively disengaged. In the latter case, this means that not only the employees are not meeting their potential, but also they might be working in ways that actively damage their company. They might be calling in sick often, voicing out their negative attitude to colleagues or even taking their dissatisfaction and frustration out on customers.
What I don’t understand is why no one talking about it… The continued overreliance on the rights protection, salaries, titles and individual offices leads to short-term boosts, but does not translate into sustainable engagement increases. Instead, think of the factors underlying engagement in terms of four “C” – challenge, competence, connection and choice. And as for how to put these into practice, see our consultancy page for more information.