This seems like a crazy mixing of ideas. The corporations of yesteryear were founded on the very idea that when coming through the front door of the organization you left personal values and belief aside and “gave blood” for the company. From the 1970’s there was a lot written about “Karoshi” in Japan where employees were literally dying at their desks. Possibly that was exaggerated, but there were reports of deaths in the workplace from heart attacks caused by “stress and over-work”.

This is the next article in the ongoing series on the future of culture is the future of work and ideas for organizations to create rich and robust cultures that will sustain them in the future.

There have been many studies published in recent times around the ideas of disengaged employees and the impact that they are having on companies. The now famous Gallop Study in 2017 suggested that disengaged employees could be costing companies $550Bn in lost productivity. More recently the research company Achievers suggested that the percentage of disengaged employees actively seeking to change jobs has dropped from 74% to 35%.

This is not however such good news.  The same study suggested that only 21% of employees in the USA were engaged in the workplace. So despite the drop in the number actively seeking new employment, a majority of employees are not engaged but intending to stay in the job.

This is potentially a sad reflection on the state of business globally. However, turning that around perhaps it heralds one of the greatest opportunities for business. 

Companies that can successfully reverse this alarming trend will become employers of choice and simply great places to work.

I recently spoke at an Agile Scrum Conference in Nepal.  I wanted to bottle the enthusiasm that saw in the crowd. There were 10 countries represented at the conference and everyone I spoke to was brimming with pride and enthusiasm about their work and work environments.

The keynote I delivered was around the future of culture and what companies can do to drive the direction of the future of work.  Numerous delegates engaged with me over the course of the conference on how they can would like to replicate their cultures as their companies go through rapid growth. In other words how to maintain the culture and not let it be changed (negatively) by the large number of new employees.

One idea is the concept of personal value recognition in the work space. This has two components to it. The first is the idea of recognizing the employee personal values and trying to accommodate them at work, and secondly looking at tools that can measure values and the relative importance of certain values.

The first is obvious, at least to me. In order to have a productive happy team, made up of productive happy people we need to acknowledge a simple idea. If employees feel that their personal values are not being fulfilled at work, then they will feel disengaged.

I have spoken about engagement and disengagement. What exactly is disengagement ?

Disengaged employees could be loosely defined as employees who show up but are not present. The study mentioned above takes that one step further.  These same employees are not present and not actively seeking to change their circumstances. This lack of engagement with the work environment leads to the ever increasing costs of lost productivity.

Now that we acknowledge that a major part of our workforce are disengaged, and that we should acknowledge personal values as critical to engagement, what is the next step.

It is to put in place tools that can identify the teams that are primarily disengaged, the employee values that are unfulfilled and the processes to work with this information.

There have been many famous quotes around the idea that once you can measure something – you can manage it. We have been working with a series of tools that allow organizations to measure disengagement and more importantly identify the reasons for the disengagement. As a leader of a team, you are then empowered to engage with the team in areas that are important to them (and obviously don’t conflict with team or organization values). This should significantly reduce the levels of disengagement and bring team members back to being “present” at work.