The latest Gallup data show that only 15% of the global workforce is engaged. With so many organisations focusing on engaging their employees, why aren't engagement levels across the world increasing? Gallup found no improvements since 2000. As a result we assist to: low productivity, burnout, high turnover.
I work with clients across industries and I hear more or less the same challenges from all parties: leaders tell me they do not know what initiative or program would increase engagement and employees report they feel not listened nor part of any solution.
When companies focus exclusively on measuring engagement rather than on improving engagement, they often fail to make necessary changes that will engage employees or meet employees' workplace needs.
In my view what created this struggle is the “being human”. Companies that try to solve the challenges only by changing structure and processes fail to acknowledge the “being”; that is to say: addressing leadership and mindset. In the current business model that mainly focuses on doing; doing more to compete with globalisation and improved technologies so to “become”, we haven't been focusing on working together in relationships, on new ways of being together and relating to each other. We are not used to consider work a relationship. Instead we have been conditioned to think about it only as a contract. I think this is a fundamental mistake as it fails to look and to take into consideration expectations and needs which are normally part of all the important relationships in our lives. I have a simple question for us all: If we viewed work as a relationship, how might our work change?
First, instead of thinking of our role as being about compliance, policy, structure, and process, we’d instead focus on ensuring every employee feels connected to and loved by the organisation. I looked at some surveys and realised that we do ask employee if they love their job but we never ask them if their job loves them back. I do not recall of having ever been asked this question while I was working in corporate.
Love is one of the fundamental human needs and it is responsible for providing a sense of belonging. When people know that they belong and are a vital part of the institution they work for they start to feel engaged. When employees feel loved by an organisation, they immediately feel more positive about work. And, when we feel better at work, we do better work. In other words, it means we are truly in a partnership, accountable to each other.
In summary, it will be by practicing a new way of being (being human) that will transform how we do things and not the other way around. The shift to partnership in work is relevant to us all as it unleashes full intelligence and creativity creating workplaces that are nourishing rather than depleting.
It won’t be easy – this modus operandi is so ingrained in us, learned habits from school and work – but if we can transform our way of being (both as individuals and together) we can support each other along the way.
How many of you business leaders and owners have ever asked your employees if they feel loved or have you ever asked yourself how can you show love for your workforce?
Look at your engagement survey, is there any question regarding the institution loving the employee? Why not? If we want different answers we must start asking better questions. How can you make employees feel loved? Start by creating the foundation we all look for in a relationship, acknowledgement and appreciation.
While love isn’t a popular word in business environments perhaps it should be. Perhaps love is really the missing element that’s holding back our workplaces from being more engaged.