What exactly is ‘employee engagement’? It’s more than just a hip phrase companies like to toss around. It’s truly about creating an environment that motivates employees to connect with work and genuinely care about doing a good job for themselves and their company. Employers focused on this concept, create a culture of enthusiasm whereby going to work isn’t a chore, it’s a joy! Remember how exciting it was as a child to ponder the age-old question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
A hula dancer in front of the Chevron station! (I said this.)
As children, we were asked this question again and again. As adults we ask the same question to the kids in our lives. Maybe it’s just a way to humor ourselves with the adorable answers we get, but all of us understand that career paths we pursue become a strong part of our identity. We don’t ask, “what do you want to do?” We ask, “what do you want to be?” How many people genuinely feel a deep sense of belonging at their current job? Who among us ever said, “When I grow up, I want to do something with borderline competency that I don’t really care about just to make enough money to get by”?
Employee engagement is now actionable. Forward thinking companies realize that culture and engagement is fostered by tangible rewards. Those of us who dreamed of being a fireman, a pastry chef, or a construction worker and made our career come true, can now enjoy immediate remuneration for our determination and effort. In this instant access world, it’s pretty cool to know ‘old fashioned’ hard work can pay off immediately!
Unfortunately, according to recent Gallup Polls, nearly seventy percent of employees are not engaged in their work. Many don’t feel a strong connection with their company or the mission — if there even is one. You don’t need a study to tell you how many problems disengagement creates for a business, but for those who need more convincing, employees who are ‘checked-out’ on the job cost the U.S. economy up to six hundred billion dollars a year in loss of productivity alone. (Gallup Poll)
If disengagement is so damaging and expensive, it’s critical we pursue new ways to foster employee engagement. People who show up to work each day as their happiest, best self, bring passion and add tremendous value. They proactively seek to achieve their company’s mission. Engaged employees demonstrate this through their interactions with coworkers, their positive attitude, and their tireless efforts.
Creating this sense of belonging and pride with each employee, however, requires more than free lunches or interesting work perks. It takes a commitment from the leadership team to focus on specific and individual needs of every employee. Fortunately, exciting new technology makes providing meaningful incentives easier than you think. But before we get to ‘how’, let’s think about ‘why’ we need these new tools.
In recent years, the percentage of engaged employees within U.S. and Canada has stayed stagnant, hovering in the thirty percent range with no jump in either direction. Fortunately, a recent Gallup poll shows the needle is finally moving in the right direction with thirty four percent of workers committed to their company and enthusiastic about their work.
Inversely, the percentage of actively disengaged workers is at an all-time low. Only sixteen percent of U.S. workers claim to be miserable in their role, while fifty one percent are simply not engaged. This means an overwhelming majority of people don’t feel an innate connection to their role, putting most companies at risk of high employee turnover rates.
Within the last few years, we’ve also seen Millennial’s in the workforce growing by leaps and bounds. They’ve taken the lead as the largest living generation, and many have worked their way into leadership roles. With more Boomers retiring each year, Millennial’s are on track to make up seventy five percent of the workforce by 2030 and continue to heavily influence employee engagement trends.
Businesses need to wake up and offer new financial technology that makes a difference to employee’s fiscal fitness. Millennial’s want instant gratification, or they’ll quickly press on for other opportunities. Sure, research suggests they’re driven by open communication, a great work culture, involvement with causes and achieving purpose and fulfillment, but none of this comes for free. What Millennial’s (and all of us for that matter) need is the instant power of our paycheck ‘on demand’ to succeed in our fast-paced economy.
According to research by leadership development experts Dr. Brad Shuck and Maryanne Honeycutt-Elliott, “higher levels of engagement also comes from employees who work for a compassionate leader — one who is authentic, present, leads with integrity and shows empathy.” I’m sure there are plenty of handsomely paid executives whose tummies would rumble if they were forced to live on a working wage. But a new breed of CEO is trailblazing a profitable way to motivate their workforce. They’re paying employees daily, allowing every hard worker to feel financially empowered and successful. It’s amazing! Now candidates looking for jobs are twice as likely to accept a position that pays on demand. Competition for top notch employees is heating up.
With more companies focused on accelerated pay, culture and engagement is sure to rise. Perhaps now, when someone ask’s “What do you want to be when you grow up?” you can confidently say, “Anything I set my mind to because I’ll be paid on demand!”