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Written by Tatiana Beale, Achievers

How do you feel about your job? Do you love it, hate it, or feel like you’re drifting in neutral? If you’re “checked out,” you’re not alone. According to the latest Gallup workplace research, 50% of today’s employees are disengaged. Another 20% are actively disengaged (in other words, openly miserable). That means 70% of today’s workforce is operating under a cloud! The business implications are staggering.

Key Issue: Bad Management

What are the core factors driving workforce disengagement? Gallup says that managers from hell are the primary reason. Poor managers are not only an obstacle to employee engagement — they actually drive employee disengagement. The net effect on business is huge — an estimated cost to U.S. organizations of $450-$550 billion a year. Yes, you read that right. The bottom-line message is clear. Managerial incompetence is not just annoying. It is potentially catastrophic.

What’s The Problem?

The stage is set for disengagement when employees don’t understand their organization’s mission, or see how their efforts contribute to that mission. Poor managers typically don’t emphasize big-picture context, or help employees understand the meaning of their work. They tend not to offer positive feedback when it’s deserved. And they fail to provide constructive criticism or coaching to help employees improve and develop professionally.

Weak managers don’t see value in helping their employees succeed. Why? Often they lack the insight, tools and competence to motivate others, and align their activities with business objectives.

The Upside of Manager Influence

However, there’s another side to this managerial coin. As Gallup’s research reveals, great managers have a highly beneficial impact on business results. Specifically, when leaders focus on building employee engagement and leveraging team strengths, their organizations outperform others across key indicators — earnings per share, profitability, productivity and customer satisfaction.

Every Organization Is Unique

Of course, the right employee engagement strategy is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. As Gallup notes, employees come in a spectrum of generational and other shapes and sizes. Jobs are equally diverse. From blue collar factory workers to call center representatives, every situation demand an engagement approach that fits.

Research reflects a variety of issues. For instance, women tend to be slightly more engaged than men. And on average, Millennials are more likely to leave a job within 12 months than their counterparts from other generations. Also, interestingly, employees with a college degree aren’t as likely to report a positive, engaging workplace experience as those with less education. This suggests that more managerial involvement may be appropriate to keep highly-educated employees engaged.

Another point worth noting — engagement is even more important than workplace perks in boosting employee performance. In other words, benefits are no substitute for a personal connection with work. Engagement initiatives must take these realities into account.

Turning Disengagement Around

So, what can your company do to improve employee engagement? The Gallup findings are undeniable. Success starts with business managers. It’s important to select the right managerial talent, right from the start. And once managers are on board, coach them, support them, and hold them accountable. Help them understand why employee engagement is essential to business success. Work with them to connect with employees on an individual level. After all, your workers are human beings, not robots. Both effective managers and effective engagement strategies recognize and respect this fact.

For more ideas about the role of today’s manager in driving employee engagement and business success, read the Achievers 2013 Guide to Recognition.

What do you think about the findings summarized above? Do you believe managers from hell are destroying employee engagement? Leave a comment below and join the discussion.

Tatiana Beale (427x640)(Author Profile: Tatiana Beale is a Senior Marketing Communications Specialist at Achievers. She is passionate about changing workplaces for the better and inspiring Employee Success™ through insightful content. Tatiana believes that employee happiness is the key to a wildly successful company, and means it when she says “I love my job.”)

Republished with permission from Achievers Employee Success Blog.

Image Credit: Pixabay