This comes as no surprise to anyone who’s ever read Dilbert cartoons or watched Mike Judge’s movie Office Space, but a sad fact of the American workforce is that many people don’t like their jobs.
Whether it’s a lack of challenging work, frustrating work rules, a disorganized or dysfunctional structure, or a lack of camaraderie, according to research published in the New York Times on a global survey of employee attitudes toward work, many companies are not doing a good job of providing a supportive, fulfilling, motivating work environment — only 30% of American employees report feeling engaged at work, and across 142 countries surveyed, only 13% of employees feel engaged.
When employees feel disengaged, they’re more likely to quit, costing the company money in re-hiring and re-training costs, or underperform. But the companies that do have highly engaged employees are likely to have much bigger profits. According to a Towers Watson study cited in the New York Times, "employers with high engagement scores measured in the traditional way had an operating margin of 14 percent. By contrast, companies with the highest number of 'sustainably engaged' employees had an operating margin of 27 percent, nearly three times those with the lowest traditional engagement scores."
Fortunately, even though many people do not feel engaged at work, it’s possible for employers to change what they’re doing to create happier employees. There are four core needs that need to be fulfilled in order to create maximum engagement:
Renewal: When employees take frequent breaks (every 90 minutes throughout the day), they report a 30% higher level of focus, a 50% higher capacity to be creative, and a 46% higher level of health and well being. When employees feel encouraged by their supervisor to take breaks, they are nearly 100% more likely to stay with the company.
Value: When employees feel cared for by their supervisor, they’re more likely to feel trust and safety, and are 67% more engaged.
Focus: For most people, multi-tasking is a myth — employees want to be able to focus. Employees feel 50% more engaged when they are able to focus on one task at a time.
Purpose: People want their jobs to be more than just a paycheck. When employees get a sense of meaning from their work, they are more than three times more likely to stay with their organizations. Having a sense of purpose is the core need that has the highest impact on employee engagement.
Clearly, employees are motivated by more than just money. More business leaders should think about how they can meet their employees’ complex emotional needs in these four core areas. When people feel rested, valued, focused and purposeful, they’re more likely to stay at the job longer – and more likely to work hard and work creatively to generate more value for their company.
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