Posted by: johnocunningham | April 29, 2014

70% of Employees “Disengaged” – Do They Need a Mission?

More than half of all employees report that they are “not engaged” in their work, and another 18 percent report that they are “actively disengaged” from their work, according to a Gallup Poll mentioned in a story on team-building in the April 28 edition of the Wall Street Journal.

It is little wonder that service to clients and customers of these organizations would suffer. I see it all the time, often getting poor service from employees that are clearly just collecting paychecks and managers who are hiding in back-rooms where customers can’t “bother” them.

While companies are tackling this problem of disengagement – which involves 70 percent of their workers – with more “team-building” programs, a significant percentage of employees say their time would be better spent at the office (where they admit to being disengaged).

What is wrong here?

Obviously, employer companies and firms are not clearly articulating and broadcasting their missions and hiring employees who believe in their missions.

I have interviewed managers and employees in enterprises where people are truly engaged, and their enthusiasm is authentic and invigorating. These leading-edge organizations, as described in Professor James Collins’s business studies, “Built to Last” and “From Good to Great,” are good at rallying employees around a mission, a goal that is bigger and more meaningful than the CEO’s ego, more rewarding than money, and more defining than catchy marketing slogans.

The mission of CVS is not to be the biggest pharmacy, but to be the “easiest pharmacy for retail customers to use.” Similarly, Darden Restaurants, the largest casual dining company in the world, simply aims “to nourish and delight everyone we serve.” For employees at Dow Chemical, the mission is “to improve human progress by mastering science and technology.”

These are well-defined mission statements that give employees a meaningful focus on service to others, but simply articulating a statement is not enough to engage employees. The organization, and especially its leadership, has to live the mission. The organizations with engaged employees hire people who know and believe in the team mission, and they promote people who demonstrate not only that they can advance the mission, but that they can get others to act with passion to advance it.

Is your organization composed of enthusiastically engaged employees who are driven by your mission? Or have you failed to articulate or even discover what your rallying mission really is?



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