Okay, I am about to seriously irritate some executives and other corporate/institutional higher-up, but let’s start to talk about the true issues surrounding Employee Engagement and the farce it has become. Yes, there is the rare company taking it very seriously, but for the most part it is window dressing that sounds good on paper and means absolutely nothing! According to a 2015 Gallup survey, almost 70% of Americans are not engaged or actively disengaged in their work (see http://tinyurl.com/2015GallupPoll) and the worst part, Gallup was promoting this survey as a three year high of 32.9% engagement – that is simply put, pathetic! As a Glassdoor.com article from 11/12/15 asserts in discussion of the above Gallup survey “this lack of engagement and motivation costs the U.S. economy billions of dollars annually.” Why is the happening? Based on interviews with clients, and peer observations, allow me to give you a plethora of reasons for this above number and the upsurge in job-related stress and dissatisfaction:
–50+ hour workweeks, mandatory overtime, and employees forced to be on-call with their cell phones and laptops 24/7.
–Companies beholden to the stockholder or investor in every decision, or hiding behind the mantra of “we are doing this for the benefit of the shareholder.” Newsflash: unhappy employees and clients mean less benefit for shareholders.
–Promoting employee engagement by having staff participate in hangman and tic-tac-toe contests to show how much you “love” them, but not really embracing a culture of employee satisfaction or listening to what the employees are telling you in those annual surveys.
–Performance reviews, goals and annual raises done for the benefit of the company and management/executive bonuses, not the employee.
–The new and increasing crisis of anxiety and job-related stress as FMLA and potentially ADA issues.
–Taking away employee vacation or sick time benefits or creating a new schedule that actually means more hours and less time off to save a little money.
–Stating you have an open-door policy for employees to express opinions when that really isn’t true. Then, when an employee comes to your office and says something is wrong with product or service quality, a project, or employee morale, they are soon to be out on the street looking for a new job, or at the very least persona non grata with management.
–Promotions of people into new management positions based on prior job performance and not management and leadership ability.
–Making up reasons to let employees go so you don’t have to pay unemployment, or using age and salary discrimination to downsize or fire employees while making the newly unemployed staff sign paperwork saying you didn’t discriminate against them.
–On the flip side – allowing toxic employees and managers to stay for fear of accusations of racial, age, or any other type of discrimination or because they brown nose.
–Permitting micromanagement, meaning that the manager doesn’t ever trust their employees, are nosy and can’t help themselves, or have nothing better to do. There is a difference between being a manager who is “on top of things” and those that insert themselves into every aspect of employee work and are never satisfied with anything their staff does.
–Managers constantly taking credit for their employee’s hard work.
–Companies (or management) not allocating resources to reward their employees for going above and beyond the call of duty, like spot bonuses, meals, gift cards, or awards.
–Employees made to feel guilty for taking vacation time or companies requiring them to be “accessible” during their entire vacation.
–Creating a culture of no-accountability for certain employees because their management is reluctant or unwilling to do their job, or the company wants to “engage” these employees and holds the view that making them accountable might be seen as “mean.”
–Complaining that mid-level management needs to manage and not do the day-to-day work, but not allotting enough staff to get everything done, meaning managers must perform day-to-day staff tasks and all of their management responsibilities just trying to keep up.
–Allowing business analysts or accountants to determine how many employees should be in a given area, and setting ridiculous performance objectives for the remaining employees.
–Downsizing by attrition and making excuses not to fill those job slots, creating overburden on existing employees.
It seems that few want to set the trend of taking care of their employees; instead they set the trend of making changes and putting programs in place to the detriment of long tenured and highly productive employees. Organizations then try to pass these off as an engagement initiative or new corporate philosophy. Employees are no longer “people,” but called resources, and manipulated through endless office moves, organizational restructurings, and stretched to the point of breaking in their job as they are given the responsibility of two to three employees, and most likely the pay of less than one.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg! The sad part is, as I was writing this, the list just became longer and longer from items in the news and difficulties my clients are experiencing in their workplaces. Obviously I can’t tackle this entire list in one article, as it would be a short book. However, I can start the discussion, and create several blog articles offering some detail of the above issues over the next several weeks, and some suggestions for organizations to implement to “stop the bleeding.”
The problem is not just in Corporate America, but the non-profit sector, certain academic-related jobs, and governmental institutions. It is across the board. We need to have a candid conversation about the above problems and how to solve them. I am not promoting a lackadaisical type of work ethic with too much time off, everything is a medical issue, never more than 40 hour workweeks, and I need a hug mentality. I am promoting that organizations make employee and client satisfaction number one, thus ensuring investors and stockholders earn ample money, without creating the current sweat-shop atmosphere that inspired the title of this article. In Part Two or this multi-part article, I tackle the following:
–50+ hour workweeks.
–Irrational investor and stockholder indebtedness.
–24/7 on-call employees via cell phone access.
–Ludicrous employee engagement initiatives that treat staff like children.
I realized before ever putting fingers to keyboard I would be opening up quite a conversation, but that conversation needs to happen. We must take an honest look at existing employee engagement issues, then implement real strategies that produce results. Meanwhile, organizations should avoid the creation of more programs for programs-sake, and “group hug” initiatives that look great on paper and go nowhere. Happy and motivated employees who understand how they contribute to the bottom line, are treated as human beings, and are rewarded for their real contributions will absolutely be engaged. Increased engagement will skyrocket your client and stockholder satisfaction as service/product quality increases and investors and stockholders will reap a nice return on their investment. Stay tuned for Part Two…
Karen Silins is a multi-certified resume writer, career, business and personal branding coach working with individuals and small businesses. After graduating with degrees in education and vocal performance, she made her own career transition into the Human Resources realm. Karen left Human Resources to become an entrepreneur and help jobseekers and fellow entrepreneurs achieve their goals. She keeps current regarding trends in the resume writing, coaching, HR, small business and marketing industries by working daily with individual clients on resume development and career coaching, consulting for small businesses in business plan development, marketing, hiring and overall HR processes, and providing 50-70+ seminars and workshops annually to a variety of organizations in the greater Kansas City area. She can be reached via her website at www.careerandresume.com.