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Is your workforce engaged or on autopilot?
By Adrian Hobbs

When you’re asking (telling) people to get on with it and not ask too many questions, tasks can get done quickly. For a short period of time.

When people are treated as cogs in a machine they’ll obey and get on with the task in hand if they’re capable of doing so. At least right up until the point when they start questioning things either themselves or with colleagues. Then they begin to push, to challenge and to imagine, and you have a choice. Do you crack the whip, explain who’s boss and keep them disassociated from the master plan, or do you engage them and build a culture of engagement through your team?

The difference is small in terms of cost and physical work, but huge in terms of meaning and profit. Research proves that engaged staff members consistently improve business performance. Here are some statistics you might find interesting:


  • 51% of all employees in the UK are disengaged at work. Here’s what that means to you financially:
  • UK Companies with worse than average employee disengagement suffer 62% more accidents, 230% more employee sick days and 50% more ‘inventory shrinkage’
  • Managers at companies in the UK with average engagement or worse spent more than 200% more time on issues of discipline and re-recruitment
  • The Corporate Leadership Council in the US reports that companies concentrating on engagement have reported an average of an 87% reduction in staff turnover and a 20% improvement in staff performance measured against internal KPIs
  • Back in the UK, 6% (one in 17 employees) is actively engaged in ‘hostile’ behaviours towards their employers
  •  More positively, organisations with higher than average staff engagement enjoyed 12% more customer advocacy, 18% higher productivity and averaged 12% higher profitability

(Figures from polls and research undertaken by Gallup, the UK Work Organisation Network, and the Hays Group)

Employee engagement is relatively low cost in comparison to this alternative, it simply takes a little more thought. It also makes everyone’s lives easier and more enjoyable. But probably most importantly for most business owners, it will help you to increase revenues and profits too (see above stats).

Engagement is a fundamental human requirement – when we don’t know we question, hypothesise and rebel to fill or organise the vacant gaps in our understanding. When we’re working to achieve goals we believe in with people we trust, we’ll contribute and turn up.

As creating employee engagement is largely a by product of outstanding organisational leadership, it turns out that it’s therefore a choice – your choice – as to whether your people are providing you with their best, most productive work.

Added: 20th April 2011

With over 25 years experience in making businesses more efficient, Adrian Hobbs is a pioneer in lean business modeling, employee development and change management.  Find out more about Adrian's company Flex Recruitment.


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