Most companies today completely misunderstand employee engagement data, making policy decisions that often make the situation worse instead of better. No wonder 87% of today’s workforce is disengaged.

For example, when survey results claim that engaged employees are happier in their careers, most companies spin their wheels trying to get an employee to be more engaged. They hold contests, or offer more employee recognition, more training, or even bring in high-priced motivational speakers.

The truth, however, is that employee engagement does not cause happiness. It’s the other way around. Happiness and fulfillment in non-work areas of a persons life open the doors for them to be more engaged at work.

Companies have spent decades and billion of dollars trying to solve the problem from the wrong direction.

Gallup: What The World Wants Is A Good Job

Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 9.56.10 AMConsider this section from Gallup’s State Of The Global Workplace survey. It is filled with fantastic data, but the conclusions are drawn from the wrong direction.

Engaged employees are almost two times as likely as those who are actively disengaged to report that their companies are hiring new people or expanding. By contrast, actively disengaged employees report that their companies are reducing workforces at rates almost three times that of the engaged population.

Expanding businesses don’t cause employees to be engaged. Businesses with higher levels of engagement are more likely to be successful and grow.

When employees feel engaged and productive at work, it positively affects their lives at work and beyond the workplace as well. Engaged employees assess their overall lives more highly than not engaged or actively disengaged employees. They also report more positive day-to-day emotional states and interactions with others than their less engaged peers.

This conclusion is completely backwards. Engagement at work doesn’t causes people to be happier at home. People who are happier outside of work are more likely to be engaged and productive at work.Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 10.13.53 AM

Engaged employees were more than three times as likely to be thriving in their overall lives as those who were actively disengaged. This relationship is meaningful because employees who are both engaged in their jobs and thriving in their overall lives are less likely to be thrown off course by organizational changes or disruptions in their personal lives.

Again, the conclusion is backwards. It should read: “Employees thriving in their overall lives were three times as likely to be engaged at work.” Forcing unhappy people to be engaged at work is like forcing a square peg into a round hole. It won’t work.

Instead, companies should focus on helping people thrive in their personal lives. Not only will they be three times as likely to be engaged at work, but they will be more loyal to a company that actually cares about their personal happiness.

The ZIDIWORK Solution

What if, instead of motivating people to be successful employees, companies motivated their employees to be successful people?

We believe that inspired, fulfilled, happy people become amazing, loyal, engaged employees. We believe companies that embrace this shift in thinking will attract and retain the best talent in the coming decades.

Our ZIDIWORK Platform is designed to help change a company’s culture to value employee happiness and well-being because those efforts will result in a happier and more engaged workforce.

The Platform includes regular ZIDI Surveys, which ask the questions about work-life balance, happiness outside of work, and personal goals. These results give companies the actionable insight they need to make an impactful difference in the happiness (and loyalty) of their workforce.

To get started, please contact sales or try our Platform free for two weeks.

Patrick PichetteWhen Patrick Pichette and his wife reached the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, she suggested that they keep going… to Africa, India, Mount Everest, and beyond.

Pichette told her that he had to return to work when she asked the question that changed their lives: When is it going to be time?

If Not Now, When?

Enjoy Patrick’s explanation, via Google+:

After nearly 7 years as CFO, I will be retiring from Google to spend more time with my family.  Yeah, I know you’ve heard that line before.  We give a lot to our jobs.  I certainly did.  And while I am not looking for sympathy, I want to share my thought process because so many people struggle to strike the right balance between work and personal life.

This story starts last fall. A very early morning last September, after a whole night of climbing, looking at the sunrise on top of Africa – Mt Kilimanjaro. Tamar (my wife) and I were not only enjoying the summit, but on such a clear day, we could see in the distance, the vast plain of the Serengeti at our feet, and with it the calling of all the potential adventures Africa has to offer.

And Tamar out of the blue said “Hey, why don’t we just keep on going”. Let’s explore Africa, and then turn east to make our way to India, it’s just next door, and we’re here already. Then, we keep going; the Himalayas, Everest, go to Bali, the Great Barrier Reef… Antarctica, let’s go see Antarctica!?” Little did she know, she was tempting fate.

I remember telling Tamar a typical prudent CFO type response – I would love to keep going, but we have to go back. It’s not time yet, There is still so much to do at Google, with my career, so many people counting on me/us – Boards, Non Profits, etc.

But then she asked the killer question: So when is it going to be time? Our time? My time? The questions just hung there in the cold morning African air.

A few weeks later, I was happy back at work, but could not shake away THE question: When is it time for us to just keep going? And so began a reflection on my/our life. Through numerous hours of cycling last fall (my introvert happy place) I concluded on a few simple and self-evident truths:

First, The kids are gone.  Two are in college, one graduated and in a start-up in Africa. Beautiful young adults we are very proud of. Tamar honestly deserves most of the credit here. She has done a marvelous job. Simply marvelous. But the reality is that for Tamar and I, there will be no more Cheerios encrusted minivan, night watch because of ear infections, ice hockey rinks at 6:00am. Nobody is waiting for us/needing us.

Second, I am completing this summer 25-30 years of nearly non-stop work (depending on how you wish to cut the data). And being member of FWIO, the noble Fraternity of Worldwide Insecure Over-achievers, it has been a whirlwind of truly amazing experiences. But as I count it now, it has also been a frenetic pace for about 1500 weeks now. Always on – even when I was not supposed to be. Especially when I was not supposed to be. And am guilty as charged – I love my job (still do), my colleagues, my friends, the opportunities to lead and change the world.

Third, this summer, Tamar and I will be celebrating our 25th anniversary. When our kids are asked by their friends about the success of the longevity of our marriage, they simply joke that Tamar and I have spent so little time together that “it’s really too early to tell” if our marriage will in fact succeed.

If they could only know how many great memories we already have together. How many will you say? How long do you have? But one thing is for sure, I want more. And she deserves more. Lots more.

Allow me to spare you the rest of the truths. But the short answer is simply that I could not find a good argument to tell Tamar we should wait any longer for us to grab our backpacks and hit the road – celebrate our last 25 years together by turning the page and enjoy a perfectly fine mid life crisis full of bliss and beauty, and leave the door open to serendipity for our next leadership opportunities, once our long list of travels and adventures is exhausted.

Working at Google is a privilege, nothing less. I have worked with the best of the best, and know that I am leaving Google in great hands. I have made so many friends at Google it’s not funny. Larry, Sergey, Eric, thank you for friendship. I am forever grateful for letting me be me, for your trust, your warmth, your support, and for so much laughter through good and not so good times.

To be clear, I am still here. I wish to transition over the coming months but only after we have found a new Googley CFO and help him/her through an orderly transition, which will take some time.

In the end, life is wonderful, but nonetheless a series of trade offs, especially between business/professional endeavours and family/community. And thankfully, I feel I’m at a point in my life where I no longer have to have to make such tough choices anymore. And for that I am truly grateful. Carpe Diem.

Patrick

Employee retention and happiness are becoming an increasing priority for companies. Deloitte Consulting has released a fantastic report entitled: Global Human Capital Trends 2014 – Engaging the 21st Century Workforce.

€The 21st-century workforce is global, highly connected, technology-savvy, and demanding. Its employees are youthful, ambitious, and filled with passion and purpose. Millennials are a major force—but so are older workers, who remain engaged and valuable contributors. Critical new skills are scarce—and their uneven distribution around the world is forcing companies to develop innovative new ways to and people, develop capabilities, and share expertise

Thinking Beyond Employee Retention

Starting on page 73, the report gets into employee engagement. Their observations are spot-on and their conclusions very much align with ZIDIWORK’s message.

  • Companies around the world agree that employee engagement is vital. Our global survey showed that executives rate “retention and engagement” their No. 2 priority.
  • A focus solely on retention, however, may be misplaced. Companies should shift from strategies to “hold people here” to “attracting and engaging people” through measures that build commitment, align employee goals and experience with corporate purpose, and provide engaging work and a culture of development and growth.
  • Employees make the decision of whether to “re-up” every day when it comes to motivation and productivity. Millennials in particular are looking for work that inspires passion and allows them to fulfill their professional, personal, and social goals.

Employees are motivated to work in an enviroment that fosters their personal growth, and are motivated to work for companies that support their personal goals.

“Today’s reality is that people continually make choices, consciously or not, as to how committed they are to their work and the enterprise. Their levels of engagement and motivation are subject to constant fluctuation in response to micro signals—small indications of whether the company is committed to their growth, whether it really believes in serving a higher purpose, what kinds of behavior are rewarded, how much can be learned from working there, and more.”

Instead of focusing on developing happy and productive people, companies have spent the last few decades trying to build happy and productive workers, completely ignoring the personal needs of their workforce. The result is an entire nation of inspired employees.

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Where Companies Can Start

The report offers recommendations for how companies can improve engagement and motivation within their workforces. Much of what they suggest meshes with what ZIDIWORK accomplishes.

Ask your employees what matters.

The ZIDIWORK Platform includes employee surveys and feedback.

Remember: It is the work: Make sure the organization is feeding employees’ needs for purpose and meaningful work.

This sounds nice, but not all companies are doing really meaningful and important work. Sure, it is a benefit when a company is doing work that an employee can be proud of. However, we believe it is more important for that employee to feel like they are personally growing and accomplishing things that they can be proud. A human being who is personally happy and living a fulfilling life will be a great employee regardless of what their daily work tasks may be.

Make development part of the job, not a perk.

We go one step further. We make personal development part of the job, not just professional development.

The Bottom Line

The report concludes:

“Already, today’s most successful employment brands align business and corporate objectives with the professional, personal, and social goals of their employees. They provide an environment where employees believe they are making a difference, not just clocking their time. To reach new heights in retention and engagement, world-class managers will focus on growing a talent brand that weaves together the critical elements of work itself, the desire for personal growth and development, the power of passion, and the intrinsic reward of serving society as part of a brand of which employees can be proud.”

We could not agree more.