Recognise This! – To fight global employee disengagement, give employees what they want – and need.

I don’t think any of us – manager or employee alike – could express shock at Gallup’s latest report that 71% of American workers are “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” at work.

I also don’t think any of us would be surprised that this isn’t an American phenomenon. A global analysis of Mercer’s What’s Working survey (30,000 employees in 17 geographic markets) shows:

“For US-based multinationals, these findings are concerning, as lackluster engagement is no longer just a US phenomenon,” said Mindy Fox, a Senior Partner at Mercer and the firm’s US Region Leader. “Widespread apathy and high turnover can be detrimental to an organisation’s business performance, especially in the difficult economic environment we’re experiencing as companies are looking to drive productivity and efficiencies.”

According to Pete Foley, PhD, a Principal at Mercer and North American Employee Research Leader, “The overall employment deal is in a state of flux around the world, with employees rethinking what they want out of the employment relationship. Our research shows that, despite the ongoing economic uncertainty, more employees would consider leaving today for a better opportunity.”

So what is it employees want out of the employment deal? Employees largely understand and accept that a “job for life” as part of the employment deal is gone for good. Instead, employees are looking for:

  1. Meaningful work. They don’t expect that every moment of every day at work will change the world, but they do want to know that what they do every day contributes to something bigger.
  2. A sense of progress. None have put it better than Teresa Amabile in her research and book The Progress Principle – there is no better contributor to employee engagement than making progress on meaningful work.
  3. Recognition. Give employees the big picture view and a sense of ongoing progress with recognition of their efforts within the context of how they’re contributing achieving your strategic goals.

Is employee engagement slipping in your organisation? What are you or your leadership team doing