Inclusion leads to engagement

11 March 2013
Knowledge, Symmetra


Aussie employees are grudgingly hauling themselves to work and are apathetic and disengaged.  A recent global survey published in 2012 by Gallup indicates that Aussie workers are among the most dissatisfied in the world, with only 21 per cent engaged in their work.

The survey, a poll of 47,000 people in more than a hundred countries, 2000 of whom were from Australia,  found that 61 per cent of Australians exhibit signs of being ‘not-engaged’. Gallup portrays these employees as “sleepwalking through their workday, putting time — but not energy or passion — into their work.”

The numbers contained in this study are persuasive. Yet, many leaders and managers are still confused as to what employee engagement really means.

Employee engagement is a measure of what staff are thinking and feeling when they arrive at work, which influences how much effort they’re willing to invest in their job.

A commitment to diversity and inclusion drives engagement. Creating an inclusive work environment is fundamental to attracting and retaining staff.  According to Gallup Consulting, employee engagement and diversity are inextricably related, shaping the perceptions of the employee and providing a foundation for fairness and opportunity.

When an employee perceives that a company and its leadership are committed to a diverse and inclusive workplace, they are:

  • More likely to stay with that company
  • More likely to recommend their company to people they trust
  • Less likely to have experienced discrimination
  • Less likely to miss days at work
  • More engaged in their work

In terms of other developed nations, we are still less engaged, but the gap is not as great. One in five Canadians are content with their employment, 23 per cent of British and Kiwis are engaged, and in the US, 28 per cent of workers feel satisfied in their job.

It was found that 31 per cent of Costa Ricans, 30 per cent of Guatemalans, and 29 per cent of Brazilians are the most satisfied in their careers, indicating high levels of engagement. Overall, the global average of engagement is 27 per cent.

Shockingly, 17 per cent of Australians were found to be “actively disengaged.” Such employees are not just unmotivated or indifferent; they are focusing on efforts to sabotage their employers and undermine the efforts of their motivated co-workers.

Almost two thirds of Australian employees deem themselves to be emotionally detached from their employer, and so they just do the bare minimum.

Research highlights how engaged employees are “more satisfied, loyal, productive and profitable” than their disengaged colleagues. The cost of bludging is more than just the expense of paying employees who don’t arrive at work. There is the accrual of missed opportunities, reduced productivity, and the impact of stress on other staff who are obligated to take on the slacker’s work.

According to a study by the University of Western Australia, absenteeism costs the private sector $2 billion in lost productivity a year. In the public sector, it’s $5 billion. The same study found that, on average, 2.7 per cent of the Australian workforce is absent on unapproved leave on any given day.

Gallup estimates the economic cost of this disengagement at a jaw-dropping $42.1 billion globally.

Gallup’s figures show that organisations with staff engagement in the top quartile had growth in earnings per share that was more than four times higher than their competitors’ median. Hence, having content and fulfilled employees is good for business.

According to the Corporate Leadership Council, the most critical driver for increasing engagement levels is that a manager demonstrates a strong commitment to diversity. If employees feel included and respected by their leadership, they will be more engaged.