At Your Discretion

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March 2014

At Your Discretion
Engaged employees cause businesses to win. It’s that simple. We can spot engagement when we see it in others. It’s obvious, but it is difficult to define. Employee engagement will be further embraced by American business leaders as a winning talent strategy when we can demystify the concept of Employee Engagement.

Although the Gallup organization states that they have been studying Employee Engagement for 30 years, it has only been in the last decade that organizational development experts have begun naming it and broadly discussing this concept. As employee satisfaction polling matured, researchers began to re-classify and draw distinctions between the satisfied employee and the engaged employee. As you would imagine, the engaged employee is almost always satisfied, but the satisfied employee isn’t necessarily always engaged.

According to employee engagement authors Leigh Branham and Mark Hirschfeld, in their book, “Re-Engage”, one of the definitions of employee engagement is, A heightened emotional and intellectual connection that an employee has for his/her job, organization, manager or coworkers that, in turn influences him/her to apply additional discretionary effort to his/her work. Discretionary effort- yes. But ask someone in your world who you perceive as highly engaged about their discretionary effort and listen to their response. Do not be surprised if they are unable to clearly identify exactly what is discretionary to them. They would have it no other way than to approach their work in a highly bought-in and focused manner. They believe it’s the only way a person contributes to the success of the business and the team. Nothing discretionary about that (most organizations would love to have departments teeming with this kind of teaming).

According to the Gallup organization, whether your environment is non union or union, about 50% of your workforce is engaged and the rest of the workforce is somewhere between disengaged (35%) and actively disengaged (15%). Disengaged employees are estimated to cost American business over $330 billion annually. These less productive, less loyal, less satisfied (at work and at home) and injury prone (seven times more likely to experience loss time due to injury) employees are undermining the accomplishment of the engaged.

In the July edition of The Edge, we will discuss how to define and approach engagement in your organization. Coming from the executive coaching perspective, we’ll discuss engagement’s lowest fruit. Employee engagement itself is often the fruit of emotionally intelligent leadership. The engagement level of your leaders directly reflects on the talent in your organization.


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