According to Gallup research, employee engagement is at an all-time high. That’s good news – except it’s only 34 percent. So, lots of companies have lots of work to do to position themselves for success.
Gallup also says that actively disengaged employees cost the U.S. economy $483 billion to $605 billion each year in lost productivity. That’s a bummer by any measure, but especially alarming given growing global marketplace competition. The American workforce is not firing on all cylinders as it should.
Another interesting finding from a variety of sources is that managers – or the absence of effective ones – are a big part of the problem. Seventy percent of people who leave jobs exit because of their manager.
Their compensation is competitive, the workplace is attractive, the name on the door is well-known. So why are so many employees feeling disengaged? Here are a few factors:
- They don’t trust leadership.
- They aren’t getting regular constructive feedback.
- They aren’t recognized for their contributions.
- They are burned out, but nobody has noticed.
- They don’t have the tools they need to succeed.
- They don’t get the bigger picture.
- They aren’t playing to their strengths.
At Jackson Spalding, we’ve found that a structured mentor program is a key component for keeping our teams engaged.
Our model assigns a seasoned, off-team leader to serve as each person’s performance coach. That way, if problems exist with the employee’s direct manager, these issues can be detected and corrected long before they fester into something more serious.
Our mentors serve as an early-warning system, too. Because we encourage regular mentee check-ins, mentors are often able to spot burnout, frustration, and personal distractions that are keeping the mentee from performing well. We empower each mentor to step in to diagnose and help.
Our mentors also know when it’s time to provide individual recognition for a job well done. We encourage our mentors to advocate for their mentees in a variety of ways. From shout-outs at our staff meetings to advocacy with our executive team, our mentors often are the first cheerleaders when their mentees exceed expectations.
We place a very high value on our culture. We hire carefully, onboard intensively and try to provide as much transparency as possible so that our team members understand how their work aligns with our business goals. Each of our 60 or so mentors help our executive team reinforce those goals with each of their mentees all year long. We also dive deep on the progress at our annual State of the Agency (SOTA) meeting each March.
About 20 percent of JSers have been here for 10+ years – which is certainly a point of pride for our agency. We know that our mentoring program is a key ingredient to our high levels of employee engagement and ultimately leads to our secret sauce.