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Growing a Happy, Productive Workforce in a Distracted World

Distraction and disengagement has become a cultural norm. We live in a world of distractions and disengagement. There is no end to the things we’re led to worry about, with digital devices exacerbating our worries and distraction just as quickly as they provide opportunities to learn, connect and solve problems. The cost of distraction is high in every arena. The business world is able to quantify this cost; a disengaged workforce is estimated to cost between $450 – $550 billion dollars each year.

Did you know …

  • Employees with lower engagement are four times more likely to leave their jobs than those who are engaged
  • It is estimated that 80% of people don’t like their jobs
  • Disengaged managers are three times more likely to have disengaged employees
  • Bad managers often create active disengagement (it’s often said that “people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers”)

Some companies become complacent and choose to “just deal” with the turnover and the issues of disengaged employees, because they don’t adequately assess the drain on their bottom line. Wise business leaders and HR professionals know that one of their biggest challenges is to find ways to build, maintain, and support a culture of engagement within their organization.

Here are three steps toward kickstarting employee engagement at your company:

#1) Start with an Understanding of the Job Market

According to hiring experts, we are currently in the hottest job market in decades. Workers hold all the cards. This article: “Adapt Hiring Change! by Rich Reinecke” a provides additional perspective on the market for talent.

#2) Redefine Employee Engagement

Is employee engagement just about satisfying your employees? The answer is a resounding no.  Satisfied employees exist in a small personal bubble; they are at work to get. Engaged employees have a broader perspective. They feel satisfied when doing their job brings good results for themselves, their team and their company; they are at work to give. Engagement is the result of a mutual commitment between the company and the employee.

The terminology we use to refer to these concepts has shifted. In previous years, “employee satisfaction” was often heard. The focus was on helping employees feel satisfied at work. As understanding evolved, so did terminology. More recently, “employee engagement” has been used, with the focus being both satisfaction AND engagement. While we still refer to engagement, the meaning has stretched to comprise “employee experience” as well as a newly debuted term that puts an even finer point on the idea: “peak experiences.”

#3) Develop a Culture Strategy That Incorporates Peak Experiences

In a talent market where workers hold the cards, the notion of attempting to “drive” engagement feels a bit disconnected. Forward-thinking businesses are now putting effort into becoming workplaces where people want to be engaged. Key to the development of these culture strategies is providing more opportunities, purpose, accomplishment, and celebration at work. This goes beyond the generic and all-encompassing “employee experience,” to creating specific positive employee experiences. In 2019, we expect most companies to have made the shift from focusing on employee engagement to creating more peak employee experiences at work.

Wondering how to navigate your organization down this path?

Start by asking some questions:

  • Are employees having frequent peak experiences, including meaningful work, shared success, and celebration?
  • Does your organization have a positive work environment, beyond just physical workspace environment, that promotes belonging and inclusion? (Need help here? Stay tuned for my upcoming article about engaging across generations!)
  • Do you have great technology and tools that facilitate collaboration and connection?
  • Does your company provide a meaningful purpose, opportunities for growth, appreciation, well being, and strong leadership?
  • How might you begin to identify your company’s personalized data re: the cost of disengagement?
  • Are your mission, vision, and values in alignment with the focus of the organization and its culture?

The answers you develop will inform what follows. It’s important to quickly get your leadership team on board and to help them understand why employee experience matters. Many organizations feel that it is helpful to engage a consultant to guide this work, provide a neutral, external perspective, and set expectations.

Increase your Employee Experience and Watch your Bottom Line Grow

In addition to a more engaged and productive workforce, research indicates a direct correlation between employee experience and bottom-line success. Research by Jacob Morgan, in his 2017 book The Employee Experience Advantage, shows that companies that made a substantial investment in employee experience were:

  • 11.5 times more likely to be included in Glassdoor’s Best Place to Work
  • 28 times more likely to be among Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies and 2.1 time more often on Forbes’ World’s Most Innovative Companies
  • Had 4 times the average profit and 2 times the average revenue

If there’s ever been a better definition of win-win, I’d love to hear about it! In fact, I’d love to hear about any of your company’s engagement success stories.


Rachel Lutowsky is a Managing Director at Fahrenheit Advisors’ Phoenix location. As an executive coach, Rachel has a solid track record of engaging businesses in maximizing the talents and skills of their greatest asset – their people. Rachel believes that engaging and developing an organization’s human capital is crucial to a company’s success. As Managing Director, she engages her entrepreneurial leadership skills and guides the Phoenix team, develops and execute growth strategies, and builds long-lasting relationships with clients.