It Takes a Village to Engage a Workforce

America’s low level of employee engagement is a huge drag on your community’s economy.

An October, 2013 Gallup survey indicates that only 13 percent of employees worldwide are engaged at work, according to their 142-country study on the State of the Global Workplace. In other words, about one in eight workers -- roughly 180 million employees in the countries studied -- are psychologically committed to their jobs and likely to be making positive contributions to their organizations.  http://www.gallup.com/poll/165269/worldwide-employees-engaged-work.aspx. 

In the U.S. and Canada, that survey indicates employee engagement remains at 29 percent, static since Gallup’s 2006 survey of employees engaged in their workplaces.

In the 2013 report, Gallup states, “Increasing workplace engagement is vital to achieving sustainable growth for companies, communities, and countries --- and for putting the global economy back on track to a more prosperous and peaceful future.”  

These statistics matter to communities as global business relationships flourish and economies are increasingly interwoven. An engaged workforce is critical to each community infrastructure for safety, stability, and sustainable growth. An engaged workforce keeps vital services in place like police and fire departments to protect citizens and homes. An engaged workforce provides jobs and business opportunities. An engaged workforce provides volunteers for churches, civic, and philanthropic organizations.

If workforce engagement is such a huge issue for companies, and the statistic of engaged workers has been the same for nearly eight years, why is little being done to address the problem? Companies, communities, schools, and individuals must move in a different direction. Doing the same things in the same way will get you the same results. 

A picture of a village engaging a workforce

In a given geography, we identify four “workforce hubs:” individual, community, education, and business, each an entry point of opportunity to engage citizens. For example, in the business hub, engaged employees are critical for a company’s bottom line. An engaged worker will contribute more to profit, growth and innovation, increased investment and purchases by outside interests, and an internal productive, enjoyable environment. Workers need their “head in the game” while on the clock. When workers are distracted for any reason from the task at hand – making money for the business – worker productivity decreases. In short, worker engagement matters to the company bottom line. 

All businesses, community organizations and governments spend money to attract new opportunities and people from around the globe for economic growth. It’s imperative communities have a holistic approach to workforce engagement to be efficient with those dollars.

What to do? 

Implement an overall community approach with targeted actions to better-engage citizens in every hub to strengthen schools, increase productivity, build volunteerism, and reinforce families.

  • In the individual hub, get to know yourself. Coach citizens to know themselves and identify their skills. Find their passion and purpose, define their vision of the future, and establish goals to get there. In turn, the community will benefit from new businesses, stronger families, and increased pride. New voices, ideas, and attitudes that welcome must exist and be promoted.
  • In the community hub, be open to newcomers and new ways of seeing the world. Newcomers arrive in our towns in many forms seeking a place to connect, feel safe, perhaps raise their families, and contribute to society. In a five-county area, we used a process called Community Builders. By encouraging new ideas from residents and newcomers, 250 new jobs followed during the next three years. 
  • In the education hub, connect your students with your area workforce. The learning environment in your education system establishes habits for your future workforce participants. Schools are workplaces. Interactions between administrators and teachers and teachers with students need to model workplace etiquette and skills. 

In our method, Coaching in the Classroom, intentional outreach, especially with students “at-risk” is crucial to a community’s success. Gallup identified the reason students drop out of school and disengage from education: they have lost all hope in graduating. Our experience indicates these are the students who will run their community someday, so engaging them, teaching them early on to be productive citizens, business owners, and mayors will pay off. In one school district  that implemented Coaching in the Classroom, the “at-risk” population decreased in three years from 41 to 12 percent.

  • In the business hub, knowing employees and their strengths is key to success. When a worker is considered for a position, there is an effort made to connect their resume and skill set to what is needed. Likely what would be more effective, especially in the long-term, is to determine what the applicant is absolutely passionate about doing. Doing what they love to do and contribute will indicate whether they “have” to come to work, or “get” to come to work. When a person “gets” to come to work, a business will have an engaged, productive, energized workforce. 

In companies large and small, the relationship between supervisors and employees strongly impacts worker engagement. When there is worker dissatisfaction, it’s often with a supervisor, not the company itself. It pays in the long run for companies to train their front-line supervisors to have respected, encouraging relationships with the workers in their charge.

Gallup concludes, “If your business is like most, only about one-third of your employees are committed to your company’s success and that’s clearly not enough to overcome the two-thirds of your workforce standing in their way. So, while doubling engagement may seem like an uphill climb, it’s easier than justifying a company’s downhill slide.”

When you take a holistic approach to worker engagement, your whole community benefits by increasing wealth beyond the bottom line. People will volunteer. They will take pride in their town. They’ll invite their friends and family to move to the area, growing school districts. When you feel valued, you have personal and professional satisfaction and peaceful relationships - outcomes every community seeks in its quality of life.

Implement The BeWUCA! Way methods to motivate your village to engage your workforce. Click here now to create a 21st century workforce economy!