First-quarter engagement scores are in, and they’re depressing. Only 63 percent of the global workforce is engaged, according to human resources firm Aon Hewitt’s 2017 Trends in Global Employee Engagement report. That’s the first decline in global engagement since 2012.
We’re seeing a clash of core values in key areas of organizational culture. People aren’t aligned in their fundamental approach to work. In part, the conflict stems from millennials’ entrance into the workforce, but it’s not just tech-savviness (or lack thereof) creating division. Differing beliefs about tradition, wisdom and mobility are causing people to question one another’s core values — and as their civility declines, so does engagement.
Technology vs. Tradition
Some employees embrace new systems, processes and tools. Others resist. A division forms and communication between the groups dries up, constraining teamwork.
How to alleviate it: First, level the playing field. Both sides have something to learn from the other. Cross-train employees so they’re equally adept at communicating and collaborating via tech and face-to-face (or via phone). Make collaboration channels a matter of preference, not skill. Second, co-create ground rules for the work that can be managed using tech, and the communication that needs traditional channels to retain meaning and enhance collaboration.
Knowledge vs. Wisdom
When you’ve got a problem to solve, half of your management team goes after the newest research, the freshest data and the latest best practices. The other half falls back on wisdom, perspective and common sense. A subtle barrier emerges in your team, as people wind up de-valuing ideas and solutions based on their source instead of their merits. As mutual respect declines, so does engagement.
How to alleviate it: Structure meetings to intentionally seek out both forms of input: wisdom and knowledge. Help people feel their contributions are valued, and they will value one another’s differences.
Mobility vs. Loyalty
The average person changes jobs 10-15 times over a lifetime. Some turnover is reinvigorating to a culture. But too much drains people’s focus and energy, as those who stay are tasked with constantly training replacements.
How to alleviate it: Hire for values and manage your ratios. Consider which roles would benefit from a regular infusion of fresh talent, and which roles need to remain stable to “keep the home fires burning.” Turnover erodes engagement and cultural health because it’s unpredictable. Remove the unpredictability. Invite your employees to forge mutual respect for the roles they play in your culture’s evolution.
S. Chris Edmonds is founder and CEO of The Purposeful Culture Group.