According to a Gallup poll, nine out of ten American workers do not feel “engaged” with their jobs. Translation: Most of us would rather be doing something else—except we need our salaries. But we all want more than money: We want opportunities to grow and we want respect. As Barry Schwartz, Swarthmore psychology professor and author of the forthcoming book Why We Work, recently wrote in The New York Times: We want above all, “work that is meaningful — that makes a difference to other people and thus ennobles us in at least some small way.”
Research consistently shows that workplaces are more profitable when they offer employees challenging and meaningful work over which they have some control. In his book, The Human Equation, Stanford organizational behavior professor Jeffrey Pfeffer cites a study of 136 IPO companies across different industries. The study found that companies placing a high value on human resources were almost 20 percent more likely to survive for at least five years than those that did not. Similar differences in success were found in studies that compared the management practices of steel mills, clothing manufacturers, semiconductor manufacturers, oil refiners, and various service industries.
We appreciate the enormous role that communication plays in generating employee involvement, and we agree with Schwartz who says we can up engagement, “by giving employees more of a say in how they do their jobs…by encouraging them to suggest improvements to the work process and listening to what they say…[and by emphasizing] the ways in which an employee’s work makes other people’s lives at least a little bit better.”
We want to hear. What keeps you engaged at work, and how does your organization communicate in ways that generate employee involvement? To join the conversation, click "comments" on our Community of Practice Forum.