Here is the beginning of another technology week on this blog. There is a lot of talk about the lack of employee engagement and some talk about gamification software abd practices as a means to increase involvement. Jonathan Feldman has a nice article on the topic in Information Week, Employee Engagement: Management Snake Oil Won't Help.
First, here the definitions as provided by Jonathan. According to Gallup, an engaged employee will "work with passion and feel a profound connection to their company" as well as "drive innovation and move the organization forward." A disengaged employee is "sleepwalking through their workday, putting time -- but not energy or passion -- into their work" while the worst kind "undermine what their engaged coworkers accomplish."
Now the stats: 71% of employees aren't engaged. (Gallup), only 10% look forward to going to work every day (Maritz Institute), only 19% are satisfied with their jobs (Manpower). Does this matter? Well, highly engaged employees are 26% more productive than those who aren't, and their companies earned 13% greater returns over a five-year period (Watson Wyatt WorkUSA). Jonathan also notes a significant increase in earnings per share (147%) among the companies in the top decile of engagement (Gallup).
So how to fix this? More money is not the answer, although I am sure no one would object to it. Remember, these studies look at well paying professional jobs, not the increasing number of low wage work. For example, according to InformationWeek’s IT Salary Survey research, the five job factors that matter most to IT managers have nothing to do with compensation. Those job factors are their opinion and knowledge are valued; they're involved in setting company strategy and determining goals; their job is important to company success; their job is challenging; and they relate to the company culture and values.
Jonathan concludes that these shortcomings are “rooted in outmoded ideas about power and authority, rooted in bureaucratic organizational structures that have been around since the 1800s.” I could not agree more. However, it also seems that real interest in the well affair of employees and the responsibility toward the general public good has continued to decline in all but a few large firms. There is much too much money spent on trying to twist legislation to corporate benefit. This money would be more wisely spent to address the five issues listed above to both further engagement of employees and, as a welcome byproduct, the general public good. For example, I think if more employees are involved in setting company strategy, the more likely this strategy will be aligned with the common public good, which in the end, also creates more markets for company products, as well as greater engagement. This also applies to the ability to relate to company values. We are now at the highest levels of income discrepancy in the history of our country and our environment is a great peril. I think that many firms are shooting themselves in the foot with too much self-interest. Having more employee engagement in decision making is one way to address these issues.