The current state of employee engagement

An alarming 70% of Americans are disengaged from their jobs, according to Gallup's 2013 State of The American Workplace Report. This staggering number means that 7 of 10 employees are emotionally disconnected from their workplaces, under committing themselves and are less likely to be productive. The question is, how engaged are your employees?

Why employee engagement is important: The connection to performance and profitability

According to Tony Schwartz and Christine Porath in The New York Times, "Engagement — variously defined as 'involvement, commitment, passion, enthusiasm, focused effort and energy' — has now been widely correlated with higher corporate performance. In a 2012 meta-analysis of 263 research studies across 192 companies, Gallup found that companies in the top quartile for engaged employees, compared with the bottom quartile, had 22% higher profitability, 10% higher customer ratings, 28% less theft and 48% fewer safety incidents." Importantly, the Gallup report also indicated these same companies had 21% greater productivity, 25% less turnover (in high-turnover organizations), 65% less in turnover (in low-turnover organizations) and 37% less absenteeism. Engagement impacts the bottom line. And so much more. 

The underlying problems

With 70% of employees not performing at their potential, the question becomes: What gets in the way of engagement? According to the Gallup report, poor management is one of the leading causes for employee disengagement. I also believe two other causes, often interrelated, are workplace distraction and information overload. Our always-on, hyper-connected digital culture, with its perceived need for immediacy and urgency, can often put us in a state of continuous partial attention. This limits our ability to be fully present for the task at hand. Indeed, The Wall Street Journal reports, "Office workers are interrupted—or self-interrupt—roughly every three minutes, academic studies have found, with numerous distractions coming in both digital and human forms. Once thrown off track, it can take some 23 minutes for a worker to return to the original task, says Gloria Mark, a professor of informatics at the University of California, Irvine, who studies digital distraction."

When combined with other causes and effects, including the elevated level of stress we carry as a culture today, the desire for immediate gratification and our harried, multi-tasking way of life that supports a constant "doing," it's not surprising that we find our workplaces filled with persistent and pervasive levels of distraction, stress, frustration, resistance, anxiety, fear and uncertainty. Having spent more than 20 years in business, I've experienced these emotions firsthand along with the increasing challenges of bringing greater attention, creativity and leadership in an always-on, digital workplace. We are not meant to spend our days in these reactive states, for they inhibit our ability to concentrate fully, perform optimally, collaborate with others and be innovative.

The response

I started shinebright in 2010 in response to the growing disengagement challenge. I believe the powerful combination of leadership coaching, science-based corporate mindfulness training and targeted internal brand activation programs can help employees foster greater levels of emotional connectedness to themselves, each other and their workplaces. 

There is good news here. We can change our relationship to the demands of the digital age and, at the same time, improve our own self leadership, as well as how we lead others. With practice we can move from a default mode of reacting to a conscious choice of responding. I have long been inspired by Viktor Frankl and his seminal words from his 1946 book, Man's Search For Meaning: 

Between stimulus and response there is a space.
 
In that space is our power to choose our response. 
 
In our response lies our growth and freedom.

Through the awareness that mindfulness training brings, each of us has the freedom to choose how we respond. The key is awareness. shinebright helps support leaders, employees, teams and organizations return to a place of centeredness and presence where we can choose our responses by connecting to our deeper truths of who we are and what we stand for. 

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