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Monday, September 26, 2011

Employee Disengagement Spells Bad News for All Canadians

According to a recent study conducted by the Mercer Group (a leading global provider of consulting, outsourcing and investment services) employee disengagement in Canada has reached crisis proportions!

Among the nearly 30,000 employees Mercer polled across 17 countries, Canadian employees had the lowest level of engagement (defined as feeling they have a vested interest in the success of the company they work for and the willingness and motivation to exceed their job requirements) with over 50% acknowledging they have virtually 'checked out' on the job.

Interestingly, the highest level of engagement was found among employees over 50, the very group most large companies seem most eager to jettison these days.

That aside, a full 36% of all Canadian employees said they are seriously considering changing employers, up from 26% when last surveyed in 2006, and a further 22% said they could care a less whether they stay or go, which would suggest that growing turnover is inevitable. But as Madeline Avedon, Principal, Mercer’s Human Capital Business states in the report:

"This erosion in employee sentiment has business consequences that reach well beyond the direct costs of employee turnover."

While Madeline did not spell out specific consequences, it stands to reason that all Canadians, be they business owners, corporate executives, consumers, investors, students, employees or retirees, can expect to pay a very high price if this problem is not addressed.

Decreased productivity, lower quality goods and services, inflated costs, fewer exports, diminished customer service levels, fewer employment opportunities, worse returns on investments, higher taxes, more business failures, more layoffs and a lower standard of living...are just a few of the potential implications of this negative trend.

Is there a way out or is it too late? That's hard to say, but perhaps at least part of the answer lies in one of the other findings of the study, which points out the strong correlation between employee empowerment, engagement and service quality. Again according to Madeline:

"Canadian employees, in particular, are more engaged when they can deliver quality service..."

I would suggest that the flip side also hold true - Canadians deliver a higher level of service quality when they are more engaged - and that the problem (and therefore the solution) lies in the hands of management!

Either way, those of us in business better start empowering, investing in and caring more about our people and our customers... preferably before we find ourselves operating in a country with third world economic status!

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