The hidden cost of disengaged employees is just the tip of the iceberg

Finding good employees who know how to do their jobs, work hard, use their initiative, and are prepared to go the extra mile to get the job done is a rare thing. Even if you have employees like this, there’s a good chance you have at least a few who aren’t. According to the latest research, each of those employees is costing you at least 34% of your salary in lost productivity.

You can choose to tolerate that situation or you can choose to make some changes because there is a different way. A form taken by a set of businesses that consistently outperform all others. Compared to the stock market as a whole, these businesses have performed more than 400 times better.

The problem is that most companies offer their employees little more than a salary. Even those that are more enlightened and offer other benefits: health insurance, pension, stock options, etc. – for the most part are still engaged in a time-for-money transaction.

Human beings need more than that. They need to be involved in something bigger than themselves: there must be a greater purpose in going to work every day; a purpose that goes beyond enriching shareholders with their sweat. They need to know how they are contributing to that purpose and see what difference they are making. They need to connect with their colleagues around a common goal, working together rather than in different directions. They also need to be able to see how they are developing professionally, personally, and in the community. In between all of this, on a very basic level, they want security. It’s not the kind of pseudo-security that comes from being told your job is safe as long as you keep doing it, but the kind that comes from being involved in decision-making. And not only be informed of decisions, but actively participate in decision-making.

Few companies operate with that kind of transparency and involvement.

Employee engagement initiatives help in part to address this, but even they don’t go far enough. Commitment is just a starting point for the stellar performing companies highlighted at the beginning of this article. It is necessary, but not sufficient for maximum performance. These companies have also adopted the following practices:

  • open-book management in which employees not only have full access to company finances, but are also actively involved in creating budgets and forecasts – they understand how their role impacts the bottom line and balance sheet. On the contrary, it is very likely that most of your employees do not know what a balance sheet looks like. It’s not their fault: Most school curricula don’t teach it, which is why most people go into work without understanding how business works.
  • Which brings us to the second thing these businesses do: teach all of their people how the business works, how it makes money, and how it generates cash. If you tell people how to do something, they might do it. If you help them understand how it impacts the business and therefore their job security, they are more likely to do the best they can and do the right thing to achieve it.
  • These companies also go one step further because you still won’t get 100% commitment if they are working hard just to make others rich. So they give their employees a share in the business. However, it is more than a share plan: it involves making the employees as a whole the main shareholder. Many companies, especially publicly traded ones, give shares to employees. However, his shareholding is so small compared to the total capital and his ability to influence the share price is so limited that he is generally not a great motivator. The stock price is likely to be affected by global events outside of their control much more than the work they do today. It may keep them from leaving for a while, particularly if the stock price is depressed, but it rarely motivates higher levels of performance. However, in a business that is wholly owned by employees, the main impacts on share price are strategy and execution, two things that the entire workforce can influence and impact.

As a result, at these companies, employees not only do what their job description tells them to do, but they also do whatever it takes to increase profits and strengthen the bottom line. They have a common goal, so they all come together as a team (those who don’t aren’t tolerated by the rest for long, so they’re in or out). They are involved in deciding the strategy and objectives and then in the daily execution of them. They can see how the business is run. In difficult times they get involved in creating the plans to cross over to the other side. They can see the real situation instead of filling in the gaps with assumptions. While total job security may not exist, at least they can see what’s going on and have a say in what’s going on.

The company itself becomes the product in the minds of all employees. There is only one sure way to instill an attitude of ownership in all employees and that is to make them owners. Anything else will fall significantly short.

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