Engage employees to succeed or fail
Fewer than one in 10 employees are ‘engaged' in their jobs; while 60 per cent are ‘not engaged' and 32 per cent are ‘actively disengaged'
Despite strong growth in the past decade, declining GDP growth rates seem to indicate that India’s economy is slowing down. Concerned business leaders in India point to a need for rapid and significant structural reforms to stimulate growth and increase demand. However, these leaders should look inside their own companies and acknowledge that high levels of worker disengagement and a lack of investment in their work environments also contribute to decreasing economic growth levels in India.
Companies in India face a serious problem with disengagement among workers. Fewer than one in 10 employees are ‘engaged’ in their jobs, according to a Gallup research released in April 2012.The rest are ‘not engaged’ (60 percent) or ‘actively disengaged’ (32 percent) - the most harmful form of disengagement.
Leaders in India need to realize that companies that effectively engage their employees have a significant advantage over other organizations through periods of both economic growth and decline.
A focus on these four key areas will help companies stimulate employee engagement and improve performance:
Companies in India must ensure they are hiring the right employees - those who have the inherent talents that best fit the requirements of the role. Gallup defines ‘talent’ as naturally recurring patterns of thought, feeling, or behavior that can be productively applied.
Without this basic consideration, any attempt to build engagement will be severely compromised. Organizations in India should pay more attention to this fundamental step. Further, they should strive to deliberately attract the right candidates for the role. And they should avoid making hiring decisions focused solely on candidates’ education, experience, and skills - these elements alone rarely predict excellence.
Selecting for talent does not just apply to the initial hire - it also relates to moving current employees into new roles. Often, employers assume that success in one role predicts success in another, but this is a potentially disastrous strategy for both the employer and the employee.
Gallup has found that when employees quit their jobs, they do so because of bad managers. This emphasizes the effect a direct manager has on each employee. Poor management leads to significant performance issues - employees with bad managers do not clearly understand their role, believe their talents are not properly directed, and lack the feedback they need to succeed.
Companies in India must identify managers based on talent and develop them through the use of proven strengths-based techniques. Until business leaders make a significant investment in this crucial element of the employee-employer relationship, Indian organizations will continue to suffer from low engagement and subpar performance.
Companies in India should avoid operating with a ‘deficit’ mindset. They should focus on maximizing excellence by building on employees’ strengths rather than controlling damage by eliminating weaknesses.
This strategy can be the difference between an inspired, world class workforce and an average, demotivated one. Gallup research has found that employees can never become world class by working to overcome weakness. Instead, they must build on their innate talents to create strong performance.
Employees have four critical expectations of their leaders: provide stability, build trust, show compassion, and inspire hope. The role that leaders play in shaping engagement is even more important today as India battles economic uncertainty.
Organizations must select leaders based on their natural talents, and they must also provide support systems and opportunities for them to demonstrate stability, trust, compassion, and hope. Leaders must help employees feel connected to the organization and believe that their role, and reason for being, is worthwhile.
It is clear that for India to remain an economic powerhouse, its leaders need to act. Engagement should be a significant focus for companies across India, but this strategy is not easy, and it requires investment and commitment throughout an organization.
Companies that have focused on engagement have reaped economic benefits, but pockets of highly engaged organizations are not enough to transform the national economy. India needs to view the improvement and engagement of its workplaces as a concerted movement – proper employee and management selection and development are the foundation upon which Indian organizations can truly begin to grow and succeed.