Opinion | The death of workplace engagement | Michelle Crawford

GRIM OUTLOOK: Why do so many people feel disconnected to their workplace?

GRIM OUTLOOK: Why do so many people feel disconnected to their workplace?

You don’t have to look very far through employee engagement figures to realise the picture is not good.

In fact, it’s dismal.

On average, the score for engagement in Australian businesses is somewhere around the 21-36 per cent depending on the statistics you use. 

This, of course, leaves about 70 per cent disengaged - or less engaged – than their counterparts. 

Think of it this way. If you had a piece of equipment running at the 30 per cent capacity mark, would you want to know how to fix it? 

If you had an IT system that was effective only 30 per cent of the time, wouldn’t you want some change? 

What if your safety system in your business could boast 30 per cent compliance?

If I was running a business that was reaping those kind of statistics, I would want to know exactly why, what I could do about it, and who could help me.

Then I would want to change it fast.

I am baffled by the apparent sense of complacency that people have about this workplace issue. 

How is it possible to have a conversation about productivity without considering engagement?

How is it possible to have a conversation about engagement without considering leadership and culture?

And at its most basic, why do such an incredibly high percentage of humans feel disconnected to their workplace and have low desire to put in discretionary effort?

I believe the crux of this issue is to do with our basic human needs. 

The six needs that are shared across humanity, regardless of gender, age, ability, religion, ethnicity, etc., are:

  1.  Certainty/safety
  2.  Variety
  3.  Significance
  4.  Love and connection
  5.  Growth
  6.  Contribution

Think very honestly about your workplace as you are reading this.

  How great is your workplace at providing you the best environment to feel those things? 

Even more importantly, how great are you at providing those things to yourself in your world, whether through work or other means?

It’s OK to feel disconnected, disengaged, cynical or mistrustful. 

Just be honest about it and determine what your contribution is and what is the workplace’s contribution. 

Only with 100 per cent personal responsibility for our lives will we ever see anything nearing 100 per cent engagement in our businesses. 

Meanwhile, disengagement costs Australia business $33.5 billion. This must be one of our bigger economic leaks. 

Surely, it is a great ROI to provide support to your people to focus on strengths, to develop supervisor competency at providing feedback, ability to inspire and motivate and tips on creating an open and trusting culture.

 There are so many resources, consultants and facilitators around who can help.

Go all out and make increasing engagement a core strategic objective for the next few years and see the difference.

Michelle Crawford is the founder of Newcastle-based human resources firm Being More Human