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Reasons for Lack of Engagement
Excerpt from UNLOCK The Wealth of Talent in Your Organization

When employees come to work in the bodily form only (the physical person shows up, but the mind and heart are absent), we call this warm chair attrition (WCA). These people are at their desk, but most if not all days, they are not getting anything beyond ordinary done. They only produce at a reasonable level some of the time. Regardless of the impetus for their WCA, people who are aware they have warm chair attrition tell us they often bide their time until their “dream” job comes along. Those who operate with this mentality of “just doing enough” are often unaware of their impact on the organization.

Of course, this problem gets much more prominent in a larger organization, where often people and performance issues get lost, sometimes for years at a time.

Tracking warm chair attrition can be very valuable.  Although it is essential to study, currently there is no data to analyze which percentage of WCA is caused because the person just was not a fit in the job or outgrew the role, or which is caused because a good employee was managed by a bad supervisor or vice versa.

When tenured folks feel cemented or want to feel cemented in a job or a company, they often start “corporate cocooning.” Cocooning happens when the highly experienced worker stays in their silo and hoards information. These folks tell us it often occurs unconsciously and is because they like to be perfectionists; however, it might be deep-seeded insecurity about their value to the organization and are afraid to share with or train others for fear of being replaced. We often hear from workers who need information or need training and context that it is frustrating trying to work collaboratively with a cocooner.

If cocooning happens out of fear, people are justified in feeling this way. For years, seasoned workers have seen younger, higher skilled but less experienced people joining their companies and moving past them. Typically  employees who corporate cocoon have tenure within a company, which means they have been working for some time. During the time when they came up through the ranks, people kept the same job for a long, long time. What could serve these cocooners is getting back to school, taking self-esteem classes, or engaging in a hobby that pays. No job is forever, and if you don’t shift, you eventually need to leave.

The new age brings a new age problem for employers every- where, and that is the “free agent mentality” (those who opt to work at home, part-time, or as independent contractors). These are often GenXers who have families and reasons they need flexibility. Their bosses know they are good workers, so they give them the freedom to balance their work and home life. What is often missed in these cases is that over time the employee and the hiring manager lose their connection and, if not built into the structure of the relationship, personal feedback and coaching fade away.

The demographic and psychographic challenges facing our companies cannot be avoided or ignored. In response to the issues of diminishing knowledge and shifting demographics in the workforce, many Fortune 1000 companies are putting systems in place to position themselves as employers of choice. In the SHRM national survey in 2012, results reported that the trend most likely to have a strategic impact on how human resources departments function is the growing need to develop retention strategies for mission-critical players, key contributors, and next-level leaders.

Preparing for an older workforce and the next wave of retirement was second on the list, planning for and managing labor shortages at all skill levels was third, and putting systems in place for employee growth and development such as succession planning and people readiness programs was fourth.

In the corporate world, retention is the power to keep employees actively engaged and committed to being an integral part of the organization. When a company does a great job of hiring the right people and retaining them, they maximize their ability to secure and maintain market share. Businesses that have cracked the code on recruitment and talent management hold on to customers longer and are in a position to proactively solve their customer’s problems. Those companies are leaders in their industries by offering new and innovative solutions to their customers because of a steady stream of new knowledge and stable relationships. The correlation between employee retention and profitability is clear.

Strategic Applications for Talent Retention

Given the shifts that are taking place in the workforce and the needs that will need to be met in this new workplace environment, employers are becoming more innovative in recruiting and retaining employees – especially Millennials. A critical piece of the retention picture is when you as a manager understand your people. You need to know how they think, learn what is important to them, and get in tune with what makes them tick. The Society for Human Resources Management published a global engagement study, in which the following ten items came up as the most critical levers in driving employee engagement, as well as their absence being a major factor in causing disengagement:

  • Confidence in organization’s future (mission/ vision)
  • Promising future for oneself
  • Company supports work/ life balance
  • Safety is a priority
  • Excited about one’s work
  • Confidence in company’s senior leaders
  • Satisfied with recognition
  • CSR efforts increase overall satisfaction
  • Satisfied with on-the-job training
  • Manager treats employee with respect and dignity

When looking at employee engagement, it is essential to understand and acknowledge that people are not all wired the same way. What is important to a seasoned veteran at 55 years of age is very different from what a 28-year-old business associate finds important. People are the sum of the life they have lived. Including the values they hold, the people they surround them- selves with, the issues they dealt with while growing up, the era that they grew up in, and the behavioral and personality archetypes they adopted along the way. A strong manager sees this and manages different personality and work styles, while allocating the workload accordingly.


Drivers of Engagement
Excerpt from UNLOCK The Wealth of Talent in Your Organization

At the start of the 21st century, the majority of the United States experienced a major set back in the business world; so much that many companies needed to decimate their training budgets as one component of a survival strategy. Organizations who did survive the great recession operated lean and mean. Unfortunately, the problem with this approach is that over the last 15 years, poor management has become a leading cause of eroding employee engagement and unwanted employee turnover.

Evidence of this comes from studies by the likes of Gallop and McKinsey report that less than 18% of leaders actually have the skill to lead in today’s world. Through leadership summits and surveys, Gallup has also deter- mined that only 35% of managers are currently engaged in their role, and only 10% of the work- force have the skills required to lead. When managers are not given adequate training, mentoring or coaching on how to manage people, it impacts how they treat people and how people experience their work-life.

When interviewed, surveyed and asked most of today’s business managers say they feel ill equipped to do their job effectively. The lack of knowing what is important in leading people results in the managers’ themselves being disengaged and disconnected to what really matters to their people. This results in people feeling like they are cogs in the wheel of a machine rather than valuable and contributing members of a team. As managers, it is important to understand and take responsibility for our impact on the people we manage.

This being said, relationship with the manager is only one of the top 10 top drivers of engagement that impact human beings experience of work. When it comes to employee retention and turning the tides of unwanted employee turnover, the results from HR Executive (hreonline. com), demonstrate the costs of such employee engagement erosion. In a survey from early 2015 it reports that 45% of all internal candidates’ within an organization’s pipeline are looking for opportunities elsewhere.

These results ought to cause a major concern for every kind of business leader, no matter the size, industry or geography. The Workforce Institute 2015 Retention Report reveals that 76% of all employees leave their jobs for preventable reasons. With thousands of high-performing potentials all over the nation, this is somewhat surprising. In another employee poll conducted by Gallup, the results are just as compelling:

  • 41% of employees are not satisfied with their jobs
  • 46% say their workload has increased
  • 33% feel they’re at a dead end at their current job
  • 78 % believe they are coping with “burnout”
  • 56% are not glad they chose to work for their current employer
  • 63% think their top management displays neither integrity nor morality

The Cost of Disengagement

Gallup Poll metrics show that active disengagement of the workforce  costs  an estimated $450-550 billion per year in the United States. This equates to 4% of total revenue generated in the US. With these numbers in mind, we can conclude that active disengagement is costing your organization 4% of revenues. To add depth to these statistics, the Millennial generation will compose 75% of the workforce by 2020, and one of the top drivers of this generation is to experience purpose and meaning in their work.

That being said the cost of not prioritizing the company’s Mission and Purpose into every aspect of the human system causes palatable and preventable losses, both financially and energetically.

Future Workforce Trends

Forecasting from McKinsey Workforce Trends report tells us that we are facing a new era of workplace operations:

  • Exponential scaling adoptions of tech-based practices, will lead to 5% of current activity hours becoming automated by 2030.
  • Increase of automation in the workplace, 33.3% (one third) of the workforce will lead to significant occupational changes in the workforce.
  • An increase of retirees (65 years and older) will skyrocket from 14% in 2017 to 21% in 2030.
  • The annual increase of GDP per capita will rise 3% between now and 2030.

In this new work environment, companies need to prioritize rethinking organizational design, and redesigning business processes. With the accelerated deployment of automation and AI, partnerships in talent development need to take place to build core digital and analytics capabilities. Adapting talent strategy and managing work- force transitions is paramount for businesses to remain competitive and efficient.

Six Myths of Employee Engagement
By: Margaret Graziano

With today’s global ability to produce carbon copy technology and business models, people truly are a company’s only competitive advantage. Businesses that want to accentuate and optimize their competitive talent advantage focus on employee engagement strategies that improve overall workforce productivity and return on staffing investments.

A major disruption to employee engagement is the adverse impact of the unhappiness epidemic across many companies.

When employees are disengaged or disenfranchised with their work situation, performance plateaus or greatly diminishes. When there is awareness about what causes unhappiness at work, a company can do something about it.

Studies have shown that the drivers of employee engagement have everything to do with how an employee feels about work and feels at work. It begins with the employee feeling connected and invested in the company mission and direction, and continues with the employee having trust in the company’s leadership.

The first step in creating and inspiring engagement in the workforce is to debunk the pervasive and misleading myths about employee engagement.

There are six myths disrupting companies’ ability to keep people engaged.

1. A Flexible Work Environment Fosters Productivity

While remote work opportunities reduce the carbon footprint and avert hours wasted in traffic, more often than not companies do a poor job of looping remote workers into the day-to-day activities of the business. Unfortunately, a very typically adverse impact of remote work for the employee is out of sight, out of mind. Research shows that remote workers and workers with flex time schedules receive less coaching and mentoring and miss out on the institutional knowledge-sharing and socialization that happens in the typical course of a shared workspace.

2. Strong Paychecks Equal Strong Loyalty

Not all people are primarily motivated by money, and more often than not, fair and sustainable pay is not a motivator—it is a table stake. For years, company leaders have approached solving the employee retention problem through monetary rewards and incentives. While this economic motivator works for 20% of the population, most organizations are finding that employee spiffs and salary increases alone are insufficient in reversing the turnover trend.

For 80% of the working population the money is not a lever that leads to engagement and buy in. 40% of people want workplace rewards in terms of more educational opportunities, rewarding and challenging projects, and a sense that they can further their knowledge and career path as a result of working with a specific company or in a certain role. The other 40% of workers want to feel emotionally connected to the mission and service of the organization and to the customers they serve. Increasing their customer-facing opportunities is much more rewarding than a few extra bucks in their paycheck or a receiving a gift card for coffee.

If money is the only mechanism to get people to stay, it leads people using money to create to bidding wars between current and future employers.

3. Employee Independence is Necessary for Performance

One pervasive myth is that all employees need autonomy and independence, and the more hands-off that management is the better the employee will perform.

The reality is that autonomy and independence are not values that everyone shares. To one employee, being left alone can be a true benefit and they may thrive when left up to their own devices. To others it is a recipe for feeling disconnected, isolated and ignored.

4. A Job is Just a Job

Today’s worker and human beings in general are much more evolved and present to work life fulfillment than ever before. Employees today fundamentally want and need so much more than a job for a paycheck. A striking majority of workers have said they want purpose and meaning in the work they do, and that they feel happier at work when they know that what they do matters to the success of the organization.

5. Employees Should be Satisfied with Their Current Position

High-performing people need to see a pathway for themselves in the role they own and in the company they work in. Engagement research shows that when people see a pathway for their growth and development they provide a higher-level of consistent results for the team. When employees feel that a company is invested in their growth, they are more committed to their role and more connected to how they impact the success of the company.

6. Your Company is Enough to Keep the Employee

The sixth myth is that people go to work for a company and their loyalty to the company and brand is enough to keep them engaged and retained. What has become painfully apparent over the last decade is that people don’t leave companies—they leave managers. When a good employee does not have a strong relationship with their manager, no incentive or brand loyalty will keep the employee fully engaged. People need to feel appreciated, respected, acknowledged and important; when their direct manager does not provide meaningful assignments, regular feedback and mentoring, engagement is thwarted.

While all of these perceived solutions are good ideas as components of an effective employee engagement program, alone they are insufficient means to drive employee connection and engagement. When carrots like money, time off, autonomy and career path are not coupled with alignment, good people management, and ‘match fit’ those incentives wind up costing companies millions and derive little to no benefit in the long run.

A well thought out, conscious employee engagement program considers who people are as individuals, and allows for customization in the approach to assigning work and giving feedback. Individualization is a 21st century shift from the one size-fits-all management of the 80’s. A main component of a well-built employee engagement program includes highly competent management team who embraces coaching and mentoring their people.

When a manager takes the time to offer professional development opportunities, communicate how the employee’s role contributes to the overall organizations success and rewards for great performance, employees feel valued and appreciated and engagement soars.

Book Margaret Graziano, Top-Rated & Award-Winning Employee Engagement Speaker: https://margaretgraziano.com/contact-us/