The Employee Engagement Gap

Gallup’s recent State of Work report highlighted an ‘engagement gap’ between the best and the rest (see graph).

It’s not a little gap, a small sliver of difference. It’s a huge, Grand Canyon-sized gap. The best have almost three times as many engaged employees as the rest.
(in fact, the lower line is the average, so ‘the rest’ are actually doing worse than that).
Which is a massive opportunity for ‘the rest’, isn’t it? I mean, even if they copy what ‘the best’ do badly, they could probably halve the gap, which would double the number of engaged employees they have. That would give a massive boost to their performance and profitability.

So why aren’t they doing it? It must be really hard stuff, right?

Here’s the questions that Gallup use to gauge whether an employee is engaged or not.

  1. I know what is expected of me at work.
  2. I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right.
  3. At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.
  4. In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.
  5. My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person.
  6. There is someone at work who encourages my development.
  7. At work, my opinions seem to count.
  8. The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important.
  9. My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work.
  10. I have a best friend at work.
  11. In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress.
  12. This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow.

We’d all like to answer a strong ‘Yes’ to those wouldn’t we? Certainly, I could have during the best parts of my career (I still have friends and many fond memories from those times.)

The best companies get high scores, because they create the conditions so that employees can answer positively to these. By chance or design (or probably a bit of both), they are focused on these questions.

So why can’t ‘the rest’?

Too many of them struggle to get the first one into positive territory. Or the second. These are just management basics.

A lot of these are easy to address. Others might not even occur to some ‘leaders’ but can be (should be) brought into their awareness. Some might take a bit of time tome the dial on but none of them are hard to do. The payoffs are considerable and multiple.

So what’s the problem?

Is it that leaders and managers are just not up to the task?

Or they are not giving it enough priority (and understandable but grievous error)?

Or is it that they just don’t care?
They don’t think it’s important to have engaged employees, to value your people and acknowledge the contribution they make?

Whichever it is, and it may be a combination, it’s just not good enough, is it?

And it’s certainly not acceptable, from a business or a human perspective.

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