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  • *Less than a quarter (24%) of employees in Australia are engaged

  • Employee engagement has not budged in a decade

  • Measuring engagement isn’t sufficient to improve it

Australia has an employee engagement crisis, with serious and potentially lasting repercussions for future innovation and the economy. *Gallup has tracked employee engagement since 2000.

According to Gallup tracking, 24% of employees in Australia are engaged–meaning they are involved in, enthusiastic about and innovating in their work and workplace. 

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Though companies and leaders worldwide recognize the advantages of engaging employees–and many have instituted surveys to measure engagement — employee engagement has barely budged in well over a decade. Why aren’t the numbers moving?

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Technology makes it easy to create an “employee survey” and call it an engagement program, which allows a company to fulfill an apparent organizational need and “check a box.” But metrics on their own don’t drive change or increase performance. Many of these survey-only approaches measure employee perceptions and provide metrics instead of improving workplaces and business outcomes.

In reality, when companies focus exclusively on measuring engagement rather than on improving engagement, they often fail to innovate the necessary changes that will engage employees. These shortcomings include:

  • viewing engagement as a survey or program instead of as an ongoing, disciplined method to achieve higher performance
  • focusing more heavily on survey data or reports than on developing managers and employees
  • defining engagement as a percentage of employees who are not dissatisfied or are merely content with their employer instead of a state of strong employee involvement, commitment and enthusiasm
  • relying on measures that tell leaders and managers what they want to hear — “We’re doing great!” — rather than research-based metrics that set a high bar and uncover organizational or management problems that are hindering engagement and performance
  • feeding the bears,” or measuring workers’ satisfaction or happiness levels and catering to their wants, instead of treating employees as stakeholders of their future and their company’s future

PrintCreating a culture of innovation and engagement requires more than completing an annual employee survey and then hoping managers will learn something from the survey results that will change their daily behavior.

It requires a company to take a close look at the critical engagement elements that align with innovation and with human capital strategy.

CEOs and leaders should keep employee engagement top of mind because every interaction with employees can have an impact on innovation performance.

3 thoughts on “The Employee Engagement Crisis in Australia

  1. I am not surprised at all by these results. The common wisdom of the role of managers and how they do their management work entrenches such results. I recently completed a major client assignment that turned around such a situation. We implemented some simple management practice change with intense coaching support for the managers to create and maintain a “learning posture at work”. This is where people are treated as intelligent contributors rather than units of production. There is debate, problem solving, experimentation in a constructive environment. Its amazing what people can achieve given the right conditions.
    A remuneration increase is rarely the answer although there may be some specific cases where it could help.

  2. Alarming numbers, considering the quantity of intellectual capital that goes down the drain. The most likely reason is the uncertainty about jobs and poor remuneration. So, any culture of innovation and engagement necessarily must start with beefing up the feeling of certainty and belonging in the work life.

  3. Anyone anywhere in any “supervisory” capacity / position, ABSOLUTELY has to
    i) have it in him /her to train co-workers/colleagues/subordinates;
    ii) be ready to get down and dirty to demonstrate and get things done;
    iii) be ready to take the flak when things go wrong;
    iv) give credit to co-workers/colleagues/subordinates for successes;
    v) have the stature to shield employees whenever required, take charge and initiate remedial measures at his / her own level.

    When despite the foregoing somebody is NOT “engaged”, the supervisor should have the honesty and courage to state so and further move to throw out the “disengaged”.

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