Only a third of employees 'walk the talk'

2006

What am I doing here? That seems to be the question on the minds of the majority of American workers as research reveals that two thirds of employees do not know or understand their employer's business strategy and are not engaged in their jobs.

This disturbing picture of a confused, disengaged workforce emerges from a survey of 336 organisations by Right Management Consultants.

According to the findings, only a third of employees at a typical company are fully engaged and daily "walk the talk" in their jobs.

The remainder are unsure of or disengaged from their employers' missions and business strategies – leading to negative consequences such as lower productivity and product quality, more customer complaints, and higher turnover.

But the main reason why most employees are disengaged is the failure of employers to communicate their business strategies to their people.

Almost one in three organisations (28 per cent) limit such communication to only their leadership teams. A further quarter have not yet communicated their strategy to all their employees and one in seven (15 per cent) are uncertain of the best way to do this.

"Management's effective communication of the vision of the business to all employees, and how it can be lived in their daily jobs, is one of the biggest differentiators between engaged and disengaged work forces," said Right Management Consultants' Chris Gay.

"Engagement and commitment improve dramatically when employees know what is expected of them, and how they fit into the total picture."

Communication should comprise a two-way dialogue between management and employees, he said.

"Input, storytelling, recognition, and reward are critical elements in building an engaged work force. Employees should have opportunities to provide feedback and strategies to improve operations, and be recognized and rewarded for contributing to the organisation's success."

Another way to improve employee engagement is to ensure that the organisation's managers are fully involved in and committed to their jobs.

"Many employees follow the actions and behaviours of their immediate supervisors, so having a fully committed management team is one of the best ways to extend engagement throughout the organisation," Gay added.

But as a global study published last year by consultants Towers Perrin revealed, while many people are keen to contribute more at work, the behaviour of their managers and culture of their organisations actively discourages them from doing so.

The vast majority of the 85,000 people surveyed by Towers Perrin were moderately engaged at best, and a quarter of them were actively disengaged.