THE BLOG
12/11/2014 04:11 pm ET Updated Feb 10, 2015

Employee Engagement: It's on the Rebound -- and What It Means for Productive Leaders

Good news! According to the research firm Modern Survey, employee engagement is at an eight-year high in 2014; in fact, it's at its highest since they began their annual survey in 2007 of 1,000 full-time employees at more than 100 companies. Companies like Modern Survey and Gallup have been trumpeting the benefits of engagement for years, so many organizations have given it serious effort.

Company efforts have gone beyond company-wide "empowerment sessions," where everyone gets things like rocks, light-up bouncy-balls, and identical plants to emphasize their status as a team (and yes, I've heard of or experienced all of these and more). Now leadership focuses on decreasing turnover rates, bridging skills gaps, offering continued learning experiences, and allowing greater workplace flexibility. When handled properly, all these efforts make workers more willing to engage.

How 'Bout That Unemployment Rate!

Meanwhile, the unemployment rate dipped below 5.9% in September 2014--the lowest point in six years, down from 7.2% a year before. As of mid-October, new unemployment claims had dipped to a 14-year low. This may contribute to the increased engagement Modern Survey has recorded. You might think engagement would increase when jobs are scarce; however, people tend to be more worried when they know they can easily be replaced. A fearful employee isn't apt to engage; it's far easier when you're not concerned about keeping your job.

Why It All Matters

All this engagement looks like it might be paying off, which is great for productivity. When employees enjoy their jobs enough to give it their all--and pour their discretionary time and effort into it--productivity soars. This can translate into greater company profits. As a leader, focus on the areas that boost engagement:

  • Training
  • Flexibility
  • Ownership
  • Ability to take initiative
  • Responsibility

What have you been doing lately to ensure greater engagement?

© 2014 Laura Stack. Laura Stack, MBA, is America's Premier Expert in Productivity™. For over 20 years, Laura has worked with business leaders to execute more efficiently, boost performance, and accelerate results in the workplace. Her company, The Productivity Pro, Inc., provides productivity workshops around the globe to help attendees achieve Maximum Results in Minimum Time®. Laura is the bestselling author of six books, with over 20 foreign editions, published by Random House, Wiley, and Berrett-Koehler, including her newest work, Execution IS the Strategy (March 2014). Widely regarded as one of the leading experts in the field of performance and workplace issues, Laura has been featured on the CBS Early Show, CNN, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times. Connect via her website, Facebook, or Twitter.

*photo provided by Microsoft