Most managers, and the companies they work for, quickly and decisively deal with employee absenteeism. After all, unscheduled absences cost organizations hundreds of dollars per employee, decrease productivity and visibly affect the bottom line. Typically, the work culture is really to blame and creating a culture where employees want to work is ultimately the solution.
There is a far more common problem than absenteeism, however. “Presenteeism” is a term I believe effectively describes employees who are disengaged with their workplace and with the work they do. Absenteeism is when employees do not show up for work. Presenteeism can be even more troubling: employees are showing up for work, but they leave their hearts and minds somewhere else. Once again, culture is often at the heart of both the problem and the solution. Leadership provided by management is key to creating an attractive work culture.
The book First Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently (Marcus Buckingham & Curt Coffman) used data collected over 25 years with a million employees to identify the basic roles of a great leader/manager. The potential effect of great leadership was summarized in the 12 questions employees ask – and the measure of successful management lies in if and how leaders provide the answers:
- Do I know what is expected of me at work?
- Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?
- At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best everyday?
- In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?
- Does my supervisor or someone at work seem to care about me as a person?
- Is there someone at work who encourages my development?
- At work, do my opinions seem to count?
- Does the mission/purpose of my company make me feel my job is important?
- Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work?
- Do I have a best friend at work?
- In the last six months, has someone at work talked to me about my progress?
- This last year, have I had the opportunity at work to learn and grow?
As a leader, how would you answer the questions above if asked by your employees? What do they think? Your role as a leader is to ensure your employees get satisfactory answers to these questions. Do so, and you make your workplace an attractive place to be and a desirable place to work.
If you’re not sure, you are missing an opportunity to use the most valuable link to peak performance – keeping your staff learning and engaged. According to Fast Company Magazine, here is how the U.S. World work population segments out:
- 26% Engaged (we call them Enhancers – loyal and productive)
- 55% Not Engaged (we call them Neutralizers – just putting in time)
- 19% Actively Disengaged (we call them Diminishers – unhappy and spreading their discontent)
The cost of employee disengagement is alarming. Lack of Employee Loyalty always shows up in your Customer Loyalty Score. Most organizations need outside help to erase the gap between leadership vision and the daily habits of your employees. Internal consultants are too close to the problem, if not part of the problem, they have too much to lose to make proper recommendations for action, and they seldom have true independent authority to drive required action.
The cost of employee disengagement can destroy a company. The rewards are significant for closing the gap between company strategy and the desire of employees to engage in that strategy.
Do you want to secure your legacy as a leader? Start scheduling time with your employees to seriously discuss these 12 questions. Come up with the right answers and you will be a hero to everyone.