Written by Josh Armstrong
According to Gallup's 2013 State of the Global Workplace report released today (9 October 2013), Australia and New Zealand boast some of the highest engagement levels among workers in the world – but we can do better. Much better.
With a ratio of 1.5 engaged employees to every 1 disengaged employee, Australasian workplaces are ever-so-slightly behind the United States and Canada (1.6-to-1).
However winning the race isn't enough. Despite being among the best regions in the world for engagement, only 24 percent of all workers are engaged in their jobs in Australia. 16 percent of employees are actively disengaged and an overwhelming 60 percent of workers in Australia are not engaged.
Comparing Australia's number of 1.5:1 with top companies like Google, who achieve a ratio of 9.57:1, and the ideal engagement ratio of 8:1, we're really falling behind.
Tradies and Farmers More Engaged Than Office Workers
The study has found that higher education doesn't lead to higher levels of engagement. Those without secondary-level education or higher were more likely to be engaged in their job than those who continued to study throughout their teens and into their twenties.
Farmers, tradies and service workers boasted higher engagement levels than those who made their way to an office building each day.
That should be very worrying for business owners, managers and HR departments all over the country.
Engagement levels also drop significantly to just 19 percent among employees in leadership positions. Managers and executives with lower engagement levels than those they lead should leave business owners very concerned; these are the people who have the biggest influence on staff and profitability.
Engaged companies perform better
40 percent of employees reported that their employee was hiring new people and expanding during the study, while 22 percent said that their employer was letting people go.
However, among those who were engaged, staff were six times more likely to respond that their organisation was hiring and only 9% of these employees said that the company was letting workers go.
Among the actively disengaged, 31percent stated that the organisation they worked for was reducing its size.
Engagement in the workplace expands far past staff “having a good time” - engaged offices boast growth while the disengaged seem to be lagging behind. This keeps in line with previous studies by Gallup which show engaged companies outperform competitors by as much as 28 percent.
Australian businesses need to engage
With plenty of innovators, growing startups, talented workers who contribute to more than 2.1 million businesses across the country, Australia should be leading the world in employee engagement. To guarantee success, appeal to customers and really make an impact, owners and managers need employees who don't just clock-in and clock-out, they need employees who are invested in the success of the business, those who are excited to come into work and those who couldn't understand why anyone would fake a sick-day.
With the average cost of replacing a single staff member close to $20,000, disengagement costs Australian businesses close to $33 billion annually. Employee turnover is a huge drain on Australian business and its impact could be minimised greatly with a focus on engagement and appealing to the needs of employees.
Engagement doesn't cost a lot either. It's not about financial rewards, it's not about offering huge bonuses and it's not a problem that needs money thrown at it. Ceridian's recent Pulse of Talent survey in September revealed that the number one driver of employee engagement was recognising and rewarding staff achievement.
Josh Armstrong, specialises in employee engagement at GiftItNow Corporate and looks at how companies can motivate and reward staff through gifts, experiences and activities.
“Every business should look at engaging with things like staff reward programs, and the truth is, that what employees really want are benefits, responsibility, recognition and a healthier work-life balance,” said Mr Armstrong.
“Studies show, that after reaching the pay level of $70,000 per year, the majority of Australians say that they would take benefits like flexible work hours, the ability to telecommute a day or two per week and a more positive company culture over a raise.”
Mr Armstrong has advice for business owners and managers to increase staff productivity.
“Focus on staff. Create a healthier working environment and put effort into maintaining a work-life balance. Keeping employees happy, offering regular feedback and recognising their achievements can and will lead to higher levels of engagement, more productivity and increased profits.”