I spend a lot of time helping organisations across Australia improve employee engagement and, even though it’s been a hot topic for nearly 25 years, for most organisations it remains elusive.
According to Google employee engagement (and there are myriad articles about the social and economic benefits of an engaged workforce) can lower staff turnover, improve productivity, lower absenteeism, reduce bullying and stress leave and importantly, improve the bottom line.
A recent Gallup poll cites engagement in the Australian workplace is at an all-time low!
Only one-third of the workforce reports being engaged. While optimistically this means there’s plenty of room for improvement, it also means that nearly three-quarter of the workforce isn’t engaged.
So how do we turn this around?
While working in humanitarian aid organisations in war zones such as Somalia, Kenya and Zaire. I noticed those who are drawn to these roles are selfless, dedicated and deeply committed to the cause of helping people survive the atrocities and deprivation of war.
However, despite being deeply committed to the cause, I also noticed that individuals responded differently to the daily challenges and this affected their devotion and commitment.
I also observed that teams that were more compassionate with each other, more respectful and more honest were also more resilient, more unified towards achieving their goals and more adept to navigate daily challenges.
As I reflected on what I came to call being more human, one thing became very clear – the tenor of the team, this humanness was often set by the leader.
Since my return to Australia, and with decades of experience in HR and cultural change, this view has been reinforced. The wealth of an organisation and indeed the power, lies in its humans.
When leaders use the power, they been granted by their teams for the collective good, their teams become loyal and give over more power and devotion to their leader. They are engaged.
When the opposite happens, and the leader hoards the power, the team resists and can often act with contempt and actively withholds the power.
In my experience, leadership is key to employee engagement and this, comes down to mindset – the way in which you view and approach a single moment in time.
While physiologically most of us have a predominant mindset, we all move in between different mindsets during different experiences.
There are many methodologies you can use to help you achieve a more empowered mindset.
Through personal experience, I developed a model call the Mind(re)set. The model details five mindsets and provides strategies and tools to help people shift towards more empowered mindsets.
The most empowered, and most effective is the Thriver mindset.
A fundamental characteristic of an engaging leader is that they are not driven by ego. Because of
this, they are a good listener, a thoughtful advisor while being open, honest and aware of their own shortcomings.
One might think that after a generation or more of conversations about leadership and employee engagement we would have a more thorough map to the elusive best approach.
The truth is, as it is in life, some people have leadership in their DNA but most us need to work on this to hone our skills.