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When I was 13-14 years old, my sister fell in love with horses. She started working at the Camp Pendleton stables, spending her weekends riding trails, cleaning stalls, taking lessons and everything else horse. She was happy. She was committed. She was passionate.

As the younger sister, that was the first and the last time I followed in her footsteps. I went on weekends. I showed up. I shoveled hay and sweet feed. Eh, I rode horses. Until I didn’t.

A couple months in, I went on a trail ride on a horse named Red Cloud. Yep, it was memorable enough to remember the horse’s name 45 years later. Heading up a hill, we launched into a full gallop, then Red Cloud came to an abrupt stop, kicking his back legs up, throwing me over the saddle horn (ooh ouch) and over his head. Uh yeah, I’m done.

So what was wrong with this scenario?

  1. Horses weren’t my thing – at all
  2. Horses made my sister happy, not me
  3. I wasn’t committed, not even enough to take lessons
  4. I was half “in”
  5. No passion, zip

Here’s the awkward segue: My Gallop vs. Gallup

Two out of three fail.

We’re not talking businesses, launches, or startups.

We’re talking people. We’re talking happiness.

The new 2017 Gallup Poll is out. Only 33% of Americans are happy. That means two-thirds of us failing to achieve happiness…in our work, in our life. Startling!

Employee Engagement is one of the current business buzzwords, but why? And, what does it mean?

Please explain

Engaged Employees are highly involved in, enthusiastic and have high ownership of their work and workplace. They drive performance, innovation, and move the organization forward. They keep the buzz and the energy going.

Not engaged Employees are psychologically unattached to their work and company. They show up, put in their time but put no energy or passion into their work. Their work product may be fine, just fine, but other than that they just fill space.

Actively disengaged employees aren’t just unhappy, they are resentful, feel their needs aren’t met and they display their dissatisfaction in everything. It’s on their face, body language and in their work product. They talk, gossip, water-cooler chat and are the cancers in your company. These workers potentially undermine what engaged coworkers accomplish.

So, Gallup just released the third State of the American Workplace report.  The report includes 2015-2016 daily tracking on more than 195,600 workers, and polling more than 31 million respondents. 31 million! The information is eye-opening. Gallup does this to help business leaders optimize their engagement, attraction, retention, and performance strategies. The results help leaders and managers understand what it takes to create an exceptional workplace culture and to attract and retain engaged employees. Gallup knows more about the attitudes and behaviors of employees, customers, students and citizens than any other organization in the world.

So give us the bottom line

The American workforce has more than 100 million full-time employees. One-third of those employees are fully engaged at work. They love their jobs and work to make their company, and probably everything else around them, great.  At the other end, 16% of employees are actively disengaged — they are miserable, they destroy what the engaged employees build and they undermine the company. The remaining 51% of employees are, well, they are just there.

In 2016, only 33% of U.S. employees were engaged — involved in, enthusiastic and committed to their work/workplace. The majority of employees (51%) are not engaged and haven’t been for quite some time. The U.S., and the world at large, is and has been in an employee engagement crisis. Are you? Are you a disengaged employee or manager or owner, or do you manage a company or department with disengaged employees?

Is it easy or hard to wrap your mind around the fact that the majority of U.S. employees show up to their job every day just to put in their time. They believe they do not have the guidance, incentives or support needed to perform at their best – so they don’t.

Of the 33% of employees that are engaged, only 21% say that their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work.

So, what does this tell us?

Just managing no longer works. The old ways (annual reviews, promotion ladder, core competencies) no longer achieve the intended results.

It’s time for change. Only 1/3 succeed. Only 1/3 are engaged. 2/3’s get thrown off their horse because they are not committed, not engaged, not willing to put in the work and have no passion for their job. But, they still show up to take up space.

What do we do with this information?

  1. Recognize that it is time to change the culture of your workplace
  2. Recognize that your current style no longer works
  3. Start with yourself, then your managers…then trickle down to your employees

Is it the same with the “new” workforce?

The “new” employees, the millennials are forcing companies to reconsider long-established structures and policies.  There is a new evolving employee attitude about what a job should and should not be. Workers approach a role and a company with a highly defined set of expectations. They are searching for purpose and meaning. They have clear expectations:

  1. They want their talents and strengths utilized
  2. They want consistent feedback.
  3. They want to learn and develop.
  4. They want their job to fit their life.
  5. They want to be motivated and they look to you to provide the motivation
  6. They know what they want and they won’t settle
  7. Companies must give them a reason to stay, or they move on

Gallup also says that only 13% of employees say their leadership communicates effectively and makes them enthusiastic about the future of the company. That is a sad, low percentage.

Circle back now – 67% of employees are either not engaged or actively disengaged.

One last time, why do I want engaged employees?

Highly engaged employees:

  1. Obviously, are less likely to leave the company. Low attrition creates stability. High turn-over costs money and hurts profits.
  2. Contribute to the economic health of their company
  3. Build stronger relationships with customers, helping their company increase sales and profitability.
  4. On average result in 21% greater profitability.

The most effective managers drive a company from the outdated performance management to the new performance development. These managers focus on establishing expectations, function as a coach to employees and create accountability within the company.

What about me?

I think we can all feel convicted in being disengaged somewhere, at some level … whether it’s work, or a particular area of work, or our kids, our spouse, our friends, upkeep of our house…on and on. Life is tough. It can be tiring. It can be draining. When it is – it’s easy to disengage. But…

This is not a dress rehearsal. As Mary McGrath, Driven For Life says “You have a choice HOW you are going to live your life! It is time to get in the driver’s seat, take your foot off the brake and out of park and put your life in drive. It is time to live your best life …ALL IN!”

Time to Gallop! Good Luck out there!

Deb Bostwick, Driven For Life

Deb Bostwick
Staff Writer


[Need help redefining and building your culture? Engaging your employees? Reigniting your own enthusiasm? Let us help. Check out our Champion Manager Program and BOLD: Advanced Leadership with Driven For Life  (949) 706-5333

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