Employee engagement continues to be a critical factor in moving employees to “go the extra mile” in terms of their work effort. However, studies suggest that businesses seem to have a chronic problem in their ability to maintain engagement over time.
Gallup and other polling has shown consistent engagement ratings that hover around 30% among full-time American workers. In other words, engaged – and 70% of all U.S. workers are not reaching their full potential. According to multiple studies, one significant causal factor for employee disengagement is that employee’s hearts are not into their work. This translates into workers “checking out,” mentally and emotionally, doing the bare minimal to stay in their jobs but offering little initiative or involvement.
This goes to the essence of engagement – “Employees are engaged only to the extent that they are emotionally available to be so,” which ties directly to their willingness to go the extra mile for their company. This may seem obvious, but it is not—at least not to managers who are still focused on conventional managerial tactics as the solution in their attempt to create engagement. Traditional managers tend to apply pressure when they perceive disengagement, ignoring the reality of emotions and their effect on people’s abilities to be engaged.
Depending on the emotions that are triggered at work, employees will either be less available or more available to be fully engaged in their work. The feelings themselves determine the path that will be taken. Emotions are always present…and until the emotional component is addressed, employees cannot fully engage. This is the major missing link in many efforts to engage or re-engage workers. Too many organizations and managers still go to the old employee perks goody bag to solve long-term problems with questionable short-term solutions. This is not to say that these incentives are wholly ineffective, but without substantive changes in employee relationships and cultural environment, they offer little more than temporary distraction from deeper problems.