Employee engagement is a hot topic, and disengagement costs a company more than just money. Despite all of the discussion and strategy surrounding the topic, engagement continues to be difficult to achieve. Clint Swindall, president and CEO of Verbalocity, Inc., has some tips for helping you inspire your employees to live for the weekday.
Swindall shared his thoughts on engagement at the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) Annual Conference and Exposition, held this past summer in Washington, D.C.
“How you live matters,” says Swindall. “You know the whole spectrum of people, some of whom pack energy in every second of the day—and others who count down all the days until the weekend.”
“Living for the weekend” is what most people do nowadays, says Swindall. Employees say things like “Tuesday is like Monday’s evil twin,” “Wednesday—it’s hump day,” and “Woohoo, it’s Friday!” But then after their 5-day countdown, they come in on Monday, you ask what they did, and they say … “nothing.”
It seems everybody wants to be anyplace but work, says Swindall, and research shows more people die at 9 a.m. on Monday than any other time during the week. People hate the idea of work and going to it. We need to find a way to look forward to Monday as much as we look forward to the weekend.
According to Gallup, 32% of employees are engaged, and 50% are disengaged—that is, they show up to work every day, do the minimum, and collect a paycheck. They just show up, and there’s not necessarily anything wrong with them, says Swindall, but they’re just “pulling the wagon.” The remaining 18% of employees? They are actively disengaged. “They talk about how bad things are now and how good it used to be,” says Swindall.
“I like to give them names,” says Swindall, about these three groups of people at different levels of engagement. Here they are:
- The top 32%: These are the “Oh, Yeahs,” says Swindall. They’re always saying “Oh yeah, put me in coach, I’m ready to play.”
- The actively disengaged 18%: Swindall calls them the “Oh, Nos.” No matter what you say to them, the response is “Oh, No.” You could offer them a $10,000 bonus, and they’d say, “Oh, no. Gonna have to pay taxes on it or something.”
- The 50% that are disengaged: These employees are the “OKs.” As long as it’s not illegal, immoral, or fattening, these folks trudge forward in the company—not with much or any complaint, but without any enthusiasm, either. They just shrug and say, “OK.”
It’s easy to identify where other people fall. But maybe the most significant question is, where do you fall? I mean where do you really fall, not where you want to fall or where your boss wants you to fall. You may be convincing yourself that you’re something you’re not. “Every day you walk through the doors of your office you are either adding to or taking away from the culture of the organization. There is no middle ground,” says Swindall.
So, whose fault is the disengagement problem? The leaders or the employees? There’s a bit of both, says Swindall. Leaders have a role to create a culture where people really want to be. But employees have a role, too, and living for the weekday is all about them.
Becoming a Weekday Warrior
There are five areas in your life (and the lives of employees), says Swindall, and they need equal consideration:
- Career. How many people say, “I’d be so much happier if I didn’t have to work so much?” asks Swindall. People blame a lack of satisfaction on their career—but it’s really only 20% of what deserves your attention.
- Relationships. You can’t show up and be engaged at work if you aren’t getting along with your kids, your spouse, or your coworkers. “Don’t forget the relationship with yourself, too,” says Swindall. “You can’t be fully engaged with no time for you.”
- Health. If you feel lousy every day, you can’t be engaged. You can’t create wellness programs to make everybody else healthy, either, notes Swindall.
- Finances. You can’t be fully engaged at work if you don’t know how you’re going to pay the mortgage, the car payments, the kids’ tuition … the list goes on.
- Spirituality. This is about the bigger reason you’re here. It’s not about religion or if you have it in your life, says Swindall. If you don’t have a bigger reason why you’re here, you feel a void. If all it’s about for you is getting up, doing your chores, going to work, coming home, more chores, watching TV, going to bed, and repeating that day in and day out, it’s boring and lacks purpose.
With these contributors to engagement in mind, Swindall gave the audience five challenges for the next 30 days:
- Career: Focus on your own personal growth.
- Relationships: Surround yourself with the right people. Analyze your “crew”—the people you spend your time with, not necessarily coworkers—and ask if they’re helping or hurting.
- Health: Focus on your emotional health.
- Finances: Tie finances to your bigger goals. Stop comparing yourself to other people and trying to keep up with them.
- Spirituality: Commit to a cause greater than yourself.
In tomorrow’s Advisor, Swindall discusses the leadership side of employee engagement.