U.S. Workforce Engagement Stagnant – Holding Back the Economy

The Gallup Institute’s most recent 2013 State of the American Workplace Report shared several survey statistics and results that business owners should take to heart. I found these to be the most alarming and interesting – “Managers from hell are creating active disengagement costing the U.S. an estimated $450 billion to $550 billion annually” and that “to win customers— and a bigger share of the marketplace — companies must first win the hearts and minds of their employees.” And to bring it closer to home the Puget Sound Business Journal recently reported that 72% of employees in Washington State are unhappy in their jobs. These are sobering statistics but I remain optimistic for employers who take these words to heart and resolve to create better engagement in their organizations. I am also thrilled to see that business leaders, politicians and the media are taking notice of what intrinsically matters when it comes to growing our businesses, growing our economy and creating a globally successful marketplace.

I recently attended the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) conference in Chicago and had the opportunity to hear Hillary Clinton speak about the gap between education and the skills we need in the workplace. We recently discussed this topic here. In line with the Gallup study, the former Secretary of State also acknowledged HR’s role in workforce development and the necessity for good decision-making, team leadership and “showing up” for your constituents and staff. Fareed Zakaria from CNN also spoke about the history of recessions and recoveries and the role that HR played in creating job growth.

We all know intuitively that good leaders create impactful results but it is not always easy to draw a clear line of sight between the two. I am hopeful though that with the latest Gallup survey and focus on this topic by our politicians that we will be able to understand and measure the impact an engaged workforce has on our economy. Another key takeaway from Gallup’s poll:  “When leaders in the United States of America — or any country for that matter — wake up one morning and say collectively, “Let’s get rid of managers from hell, double the number of great managers and engaged employees, and have those managers lead based on what actually matters, everything will change.” The country’s employees will be twice as effective, they’ll create far more customers, companies will grow, spiraling healthcare costs will decrease, and desperately needed GDP will boom.”

It’s an exciting time! How do you plan to add to the momentum?

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"My professional passion stems from a fascination with how the individual needs of employees, managers, and the business converge to produce an outcome. I’m driven by a desire to help leaders and employees find the balance between competing needs so they can work together to address the challenges they face."