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INSIGHT

These office engagements don’t involve a ring

By Steve M. Cohen  bio

It’s always exciting when someone at the office gets engaged to marry. There’s another type of engagement that is important at work: engagement in the job.

For any staff member, manager or even an owner/partner, there are key questions: Are you engaged? Is your staff engaged? The answers are critical.

I often quote the Gallagher Organization. In a widely cited study, they found that in the typical work group, only about 25 percent of the staff is engaged. Of the rest, 15 percent are disengaged and 60 percent are neither engaged nor disengaged.

The impact of this should quickly become obvious. The only ones who can be counted on to “get” your organization’s mission and vision are the engaged group. They see themselves as part of the organization and share its goals. The others, not so much.

The 15 percent who are disengaged are actually working against the organization. They may be passive-aggressive or covert in their efforts, but they are not people you should count on. The rest, some 60 percent, are those who just “go with the flow.” They’re apathetic, and will often side with whoever is closest or loudest. If the closest and loudest are the disengaged, then you lose the middle group, too.

Although finding qualified people is never easy, the reality is employers can usually fill a vacancy when they need to. At the same time, the world today means employers cannot afford to keep disengaged employees on the payroll. And as disengaged employees are removed, the apathetic ones should take notice (or be noticed), because they are in effect dead wood. An office at the top of its game simply will not have a lot of dead wood.

This is more than a matter of removing bad apples, however. A 2011 study on workplace sabotage by the University of British Columbia researchers noted some other relevant information: Managers who keep team members connected face less disconnection and sabotage, which they define as deliberately trying to undermine the organization and coworkers.

This is interesting for several reasons. One of the key findings was that “moral disengagement” allows an employee to rationalize harming others. In other words, keeping employees engaged and connected can help improve the office environment and productivity quickly. Maybe those often satirized “team activities” actually work!

In a more creative vein, this also shows the possibility of several ways to achieve engagement and related goals. Factors like staff camaraderie and clearly articulated goals help, although the actual practice in your office will likely vary. A weekly talk of just 10 minutes might can help build toward some of these goals. In another office, you may need something more formal, but these and other strategies can move your office toward better engagement.

Behind the scenes, most of this does actually involve long-term effort. Sure, office events, performance recognitions, and the like can help. But overall, increased engagement takes shape over time. A good manager will have that in mind almost constantly, but on any given day there may not be any single event or action that is clearly involved.

Keeping a tally of staff members that you see as engaged, disengaged, and in the middle can also help. Timely review of your goals would be good, too. But most of all, work to engage your office staff as much as possible. Everyone at the office will benefit.

Steve M. Cohen, Ed.D., CMC is President/Partner of Labor Management Advisory Group, Inc. and HR Solutions: On-Call, both based in Kansas City, MO. For more information, visit www.laborgroup.com or call (913) 927-0229.

The above information is shared by a guest contributor and does not necessarily reflect the views of Medical Office Manager.

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