We all have that friend who hates their job. Maybe you've even been that friend yourself.
Continue Reading Below
Whenever you hang out, you know that friend is going to spend at least some of the time complaining about the horrible treatment they receive from their employer. You nod along, but inside you wonder why they don't quit already – or whether it's really as bad as they say.
If you're a manager, executive, or HR pro, it's time for you to consider the issue from another angle: Are your employees that friend? Do they spend their time away from the office badmouthing you?
Sure, it's possible these employees are just bad fits for your culture, but isn't it also possible that the organization is dropping the ball in some way? If executives place the bottom line, growth, and other broad corporate goals above employee satisfaction, the business will suffer from high turnover and constant brand damage.
Forty percent of employees think their organization only cares about profits, and only 53 percent feel a sense of belonging at their organization, according to a study of 10,000 workers across 12 countries by the O.C. Tanner Institute, research arm of employee recognition specialist O.C. Tanner.
It's Not All About the Money
It's easy to focus too much on money. Without profits, the company fails to thrive – but the same goes for a talented workforce. Without great talent, your company won't succeed.
"While profits provide the means for companies to succeed and grow, they are a byproduct of delivering unique value to the market," says Gary Beckstrand, vice president of O.C. Tanner Institute. "One of the best ways companies can help employees feel valued is to clearly communicate and reinforce the organization's purpose, its reason for being, or the value it provides to customers and society. Employees naturally want to make a difference that's meaningful, so helping them internalize purpose allows them to engage in a noble cause and see how their work contributes value beyond profits."
There was a time when employees went to the office at 9 a.m., left at 5 p.m., and turned it off when they went home. Thanks to mobile devices, email, and changing work practices, most workers can no longer make a clean break when they leave the office for the day. As such, 36 percent of employees feel like their unhappiness at work impacts other aspects of their life, and 40 percent say that work creates a great deal of stress in their personal life.
"Workers no longer compartmentalize their work life from life outside of work," says Beckstrand. "The notion of work/life balance is outdated. For younger generations, work is life. Consequently, how they feel about their companies and their work more directly reflects their overall well-being. Successful companies are paying attention to employees' overall well-being – emotional, social, physical, financial – rather than merely providing physical wellness initiatives to reduce company health care costs."
Engaged Workers = Happy Workers
Many companies fail at engaging their workers because they go about it in the wrong ways. According to Beckstrand, you can't "drive" engagement. It has to be voluntary.
"Successful companies have shifted their focus to creating more engaging workplace cultures where employees choose to join, engage, and stay," Beckstrand says.
The following six areas are most important to employees when choosing to join, engage, or stay with companies, according to Beckstrand:
Purpose: "Employees want to work for organizations that provide unique, meaningful value in the marketplace."
Opportunity: "[Employees] want to be given opportunities to grow and develop."
Success: "[Employees] want to work for successful teams and do meaningful work that makes a difference."
Appreciation: "[Employees] want to be acknowledged and recognized for their contributions."
Well-being: "[Employees] want to feel that they are cared for."
Leadership: "[Employees] want to work for leaders who inspire and help them succeed."
Do you have to focus on all six areas to improve employee engagement? The short answer is yes. Each area has unique value, and they all work in tandem to create well-rounded, successful corporate cultures.
"The good news is that any improvement in any of these six areas has a positive impact on the others," Beckstrand says.
That being said, Beckstrand also notes that it's okay to prioritize areas according to your specific goal:
Well-being, leadership, and appreciation have the biggest impact on retention.
Leadership, purpose, and opportunity have the biggest impact on engagement.
Leadership and success have the biggest impact on attracting talent.