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If managers aren't engaged, do you think workers are?

Sharon Florentine | May 17, 2016
Engagement is linked to productivity, retention, morale and innovation. But if your managers aren't engaged, their direct reports won't be, either.

Employee engagement is one of the most important key performance indicators businesses use to gauge success. But Gallup's most recent research shows that engagement's remained stagnant for the last few years. If organizations want to improve their competitive edge and attract elite talent, they have to make engagement a priority.

Only 32 percent of U.S. workers were engaged in their jobs in 2015, according to Gallup, which has tracked engagement since the year 2000. Fifty percent of the 80,844 adults working for an employer surveyed by Gallup between January and December 2015, say they were "not engaged," while another 17 percent were "actively disengaged."

The 2015 averages are largely on par with the 2014 averages and reflect little improvement in employee engagement over the past year, according to the Gallup research.

This is important, Gallup says, because, "Engaged employees are involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work. Gallup's extensive research shows that employee engagement is strongly connected to business outcomes essential to an organization's financial success, such as productivity, profitability and customer engagement. Engaged employees support the innovation, growth and revenue that their companies need."

Engagement and the bottom line

In other words, engaged employees directly impact your bottom line. "There's a direct correlation between engagement and performance. If you're not engaged at work, you don't perform that well. If the majority of your employees are disengaged, your business isn't going to perform that well. And if your managers aren't engaged, that's an even bigger problem," says Vip Sandhir, founder and CEO at HighGround, a performance management software company.

Disengagement and attrition

If managers aren't engaged, there's a high probability that their direct reports aren't engaged, either. People don't necessarily quit their company, they quit because of their bad manager, and so the disengagement problem can also lead to turnover and retention problems, Sandhir says.

Addressing engagement issues starts with making sure your managers and employees understand the problem and also understand their role in fixing it. Getting back to basics with simple recognition and rewards can be a great place to start if you're trying to address issues with engagement in your workforce, says Karen Hsu, vice president of marketing at workforce management and employee engagement software company Badgeville, and it not only helps employee engagement, but managers' engagement, as well, she says.

"The important thing for managers is to understand that there's a problem, and that they can play a key role in addressing it. Starting at a very basic level, you need to understand the importance of connecting with your direct reports, and recognizing and rewarding them for their achievements. But it's not just getting recognized and rewarded, there are positive impacts on engagement for those giving the recognition, too," says Hsu.


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