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The State of the American Workplace

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Feb 22, 2017

Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report is out. It’s a lot of information (214 pages!). But it’s important information and you’ll enjoy the most current data from this global collector and analyzer of work related data.

We talk about employee engagement – or some other euphemism for connecting with employees in a human, caring way – all the time. We get at our data through the famous surveys from organizations like Gallup, Great Place to Work™, Quantum Workplace, or Workplace Dynamics – or any of a hundred other providers of culture measurement and strengthening solutions. And we compete in geographical and industry competitions all over the world to claim one of the top spots in great organizational culture lists. All of this to attract and retain world class employees.

The importance of culture

I’m a big believer that culture trumps most every other organizational dynamic in the war for talent, innovation, profitability, top line growth, competitiveness and any other thing you might measure. I’ve frequently commented that strong, positive  cultures improve everything we measure that we want to go up, as well as reducing everything we measure that we want to go down.

And it’s true. But intentionally creating and managing the right kind of culture is getting more difficult as the world gets more and more complex: 4 or 5 generations in the workplace; Big Data and Artificial Intelligence; globalization; nationalism; terrorism; population growth; global warming. The list of external dynamics – some might say threats – impact  our organizations’ success as well as how we relate with our employees and it seems to grow every day.

So, I appreciate organizations that collect data, make sense of it, and then make it available to all of us. I appreciate them a lot. And Gallup does a better job than most. This report, State of the American Workplace, has a ton of interesting data in it. You probably don’t want to read it in one sitting, but you do want to read it all.

A roadmap for leaders

In the executive summary, the report lays out the roadmap for leaders to follow in creating organization sustainability:

  • Design and deliver a compelling and authentic employer brand.
  • Take employee engagement from a survey to a cultural pillar that improves performance.
  • Approach performance management in ways that motivate employees.
  • Offer benefits and perks that influence attraction and retention.
  • Enable people to work successfully from locations besides the office.
  • Construct office environments that honor privacy while encouraging collaboration.
  • Improve clarity and communication for employees who work on multiple teams.

Sounds simple, I know; but any leader who has tried to create a stronger culture knows that this is hard stuff. It’s 3 steps forward, 2 steps back stuff. And Gallup has the data to back it up.

The executive summary ends with this:

The one thing leaders cannot do is nothing. They cannot wait for trends to pass them by, and they cannot wait for millennials to get older and start behaving like baby boomers.

The chapters are mini culture theses in themselves:

  1. U.S. workers: increasingly confident and ready to leave.
  2. Do employees want what your workplace is selling?
  3. The real truth about benefits and perks.
  4. The competitive advantage of engaging your employees.
  5. A shift in managing performance.
  6. A closer look at the 12 elements of engagement.
  7. Making sense of matrixed teams.
  8. The changing place and space of work.

I encourage you to delve into these chapters and consider the data, the analysis and the conclusions in each. In chapter 2, data are shared that might motivate you to reconsider how you think your employment candidates are evaluating your organization as a potential employer:

Increase in income potential and a well-known brand are not as important as they once were. Did you know that?

There are a number of similar “ah-ha” data points in this report. They are easily accessible, simply constructed and are potential game changers as you think about your organization’s culture and its impact on your ability to retain and acquire the talent you need.

Download it here. I think you’ll gain surprising new insights.

This originally appeared on China Gorman’s blog at ChinaGorman.com.

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