by Larry Myler, Forbes
According to the late comedian George Carlin, “Most people work just hard enough not to get fired and get paid just enough money not to quit.” I have shared this statement with thousands of employees in many different companies and industries in the course of my organizational development efforts, and most people agree with George. This unfortunate blend of human nature and corporate finance is perhaps the greatest impediment to gaining the much-sought-after prize of employee engagement. As long as the default positions of the workforce and the company result in value minimization (i.e., giving the smallest amount possible in order to get what they need), enterprises that must create value in order to grow are doomed to repeat Gallup’s poll numbers year after year. Thus, discretionary effort in the workforce continues to be untapped, and what could be a game-changing amount of customer value remains uncreated.
How do we fix this problem?
Carlin’s conundrum focuses squarely on two things: 1) hard work from the employee; and, 2) money from the employer. As long as we continue to concentrate on these two factors we will not be able to solve this difficult problem. Instead, we need to raise our sights above the rudimentary aspects of the employee/employer relationship, and look at what each party needs on a higher level.
The employee – While a paycheck is important, even more engaging rewards include human connection, peer recognition, self-expression, a stimulating career path, personal growth, sense of community, and other intrinsic incentives.
The company – It is critical that workers satisfactorily meet the demands of their respective job descriptions for the company to survive; however, an organization can only thrive when its people also offer their creativity, optimistic attitudes, belief in the mission, business innovations, and other higher contributions.
To improve this situation, someone (either the employee or management) has to make the first move. If you run a company, look at the list of things that are deeply important to your employees, and find ways to engage them through those means. If you are an employee, get a better understanding of what the company needs from you in the way of higher value, and start playing a more meaningful role. Whether a manager or worker, when you make the first move the other party will be much more likely to reciprocate, enabling both of you to once and for all prove George wrong.
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This article was originally published by Forbes. You can see the original article here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/larrymyler/2013/09/02/why-are-70-of-employees-disengaged-and-what-can-you-do-about-it/