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The state of the global workforce − Kevin-James Fenech

According to a recent Gallup study, entitled ‘State of the Global Workplace 2022 Report: The Voice of the World’s Employees’, 60 per cent of the world’s employees are ’emotionally detached’ from their workplace and 20 per cent are ‘miserable’.

No wonder there are so many companies out there that underperform or have a high employee churn rate.

To my mind, the secret to success in any business is knowing how to keep your people engaged, motivated and (yes) passionate about their work.

The single largest influencer in all this is the ‘boss’ ie your manager or head of department. This person has up to 70 per cent influence on peoples’ level of engagement, job satisfaction and motivation. Sure, a company can/should have a first-rate employee-well-being program in place, a generous WFH (Working From Home) policy, even a four-day week, but all this is for nothing if the ‘boss’ is a despicable human being.

To highlight the significance of these findings, please appreciate that ‘engaged employees’ are the ‘psychological owners’ that drive organizational performance and innovation/creativity, and effectively move the organization forward. While the ‘disengaged’ are those who put in the time but not necessarily the energy or passion into their work, and the ‘actively disengaged’ are the ones who destroy the value created by the ‘engaged employees’.

What can we do to change all this? Since if you get this aspect of management right, employees are less likely to look for another job (according to Gallup up to 69 per cent more likely) and five times more likely to strongly advocate their company as a great place to work.

Total employee well-being: By this, I mean monitor employees’ physical and mental well-being and when they are fatigued, frustrated, even approaching burnout, take positive supportive action. Think of M telling James Bond to take a three-week holiday!

Communication with employees is the surest and easiest way to be close and in touch

My point being that we all have our highs, lows and plateaus, and if our managers were to be in tune with our true well-being and work-life situations, they’d be able to spot problems and be able to support us through HR with real action. This could involve temporary shorter working weeks, psychological support which teaches the affected party techniques to cope and deal better with stress, forced vacation which taps into an employee leave bank, and other innovative solutions.

The point is that if the employer makes sure they get the best of you, then everybody is a winner. Granted, this all comes at a cost and both parties need to contribute to this employee type of welfare, but there are modern ways of making this happen.

Customize employee communication: I have always felt that something so simple but important as the mode and frequency of communication with employees is the surest and easiest way to be close and in touch. I think modern technological innovations allow us to have customizable and tailor-made modes of communication. Think about it: if my manager knows what worries me, what excites me, what motivates but also demotivates me, what’s going on in my life, etc, he/she is far more likely to support me in an effective, authentic and meaningful way , using a mode of communication which I prefer.

Flexible hybrid work arrangements: Recently, I was butchered by a section of the militant WFM brigade in reaction to my article ( fenech.956923), but truth be told, I am all for hybrid. The way forward, however, is not rigid, militant and extreme WFM policies! The solution is more nuanced and complex, and it requires HR departments to understand the nature of the individual job before tailoring a customized hybrid work arrangement. My take on the subject is simple: if I love my work, the physical place of work and my co-workers, I want to go to work and the WFH option is precisely that: an option.

I am not claiming that happy, motivated and engaged employees is something easy to achieve, but it certainly is worth investing in since the dividends are huge.

My list is by no means definitive and more of an appetizer; but if 60 per cent of your employees being ’emotionally detached’ and 20 per cent ‘miserable’ does concern you, maybe it’s time to do something about it. I think it pays both parties.

Kevin-James Fenech is director consultant, FENCI Consulting Ltd.

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