Declining workplace engagement is costing the global economy US$7.8 trillion in lost productivity and business leaders and employees need to address the issue in 2023, according to one of the world’s leading workplace analysts.
“Now is the best time to start assessing how you want this year to play out,” said Richard McAllister, Managing Director of Scalabl which specializes in organizational change for businesses and employees.
“It might not seem this way as traditionally most people have just hit the Christmas-New Year ‘finish line’,” Mr McAllister said.
“The issue with this approach is there’s a high chance people come back and go through the post-Christmas slump. That first month back from the holiday season can be when motivation is at lower levels than usual.”
According to a recent Gallup report on employee engagement, those who are not engaged, or who are actively disengaged, cost the world $7.8 trillion in lost productivity. The State of the Global Workplace: 2022 Report revealed that was equal to 11 per cent of the global GDP (Gross Domestic Product).
It also found that 60 per cent of people are emotionally detached at work while 19 per cent are “miserable”, or actively disengaged. Employee engagement had been rising for the past decade but the pandemic has halted the trend.
“The past three years have been incredibly challenging for everyone and, as we say goodbye to 2022, it’s time to think about how to feel energized going into 2023 and look at the steps you can take towards the next evolution within the workplace,” Mr McAllister said.
“If people know that there’s going to be positive change happening from January, they go into their break in an optimistic mood and come out of the holidays feeling really up for it. The important part is to secure those plans now, rather than just talking about them.”
Mr McAllister said there are six key ways to improve workplace engagement:
1. Encourage and support new ideas – Ask teams ‘what could be better’. Asking for new ideas now will empower everyone and build excitement towards achieving those goals in the year ahead. Plus, team members begin the year feeling heard and appreciated.
2. Don’t be afraid of change – If something isn’t working, take action by planning now to address it, rather than let any tension simmer over the break. Look at systems and processes and plan to try something new in 2023.
3. Set three priorities – Don’t overload everyone with a massive priority to-do list in the new year. Make it easy to visualize the benefits and ensure it is achievable.
4. Celebrate achievements – take time to recognize and reward the positives that have happened in 2022.
5. Make a plan to stay connected – Build in activities for teams that focus on building connection and trust, especially in January to give everyone something to look forward to.
6. Invigorate the office space – working from home will still be happening but think about updating and invigorating the office and making it feel like an energizing space for when people return to work.
“The concept of encouraging fresh ideas is not new, of course, however the key to this is to really listen, and to act on those ideas,” Mr McAllister said.
“People like to be heard. And if you have an organization where it feels like you’re just bouncing your ideas against a brick wall, then you get disheartened.
“But if you put in the time and effort at the beginning of each year to reconnect and communicate with your employees, it can really make a big difference to how they approach the upcoming months.”
Mr McAllister said this creates a positive mindset and there are many studies on optimism that prove its positive benefits. A Leadership IQ study of more than 11,000 employees found that having certain mindsets, like optimism, can increase engagement and happiness at work even more than working for a great manager.
“And don’t forget, that values alignment needs to be revisited, along with company vision, which provides a sense of purpose and direction for your whole business.
“And when you see the results, and you do the annual refresh, you know exactly how empowering it can be for everyone involved.”
About Richard McAllister
Richard is the Co-Founder and MD of Scalabl and has over 20 years’ experience within technology, organizational change, and scaling agility. He brings a fresh and energetic approach to solving complex business problems.