The training and motivation business is far more than knee deep in the “success” business. The fact that we’re still at it, after all these decades, might cause us to pause and ask, “Are we any closer to knowing the real answer?” Perhaps.
Look at a picture of a solitary child, sitting on one end of a teeter-totter, or a person, standing on the shore, looking out into the horizon. Some might find them interesting, even inspiring. Many of us would simply find them sad. The reason lies in that innate human feeling that we are not meant to go through this life alone, that, as the poet wrote so long ago, “no man is an island.”
Engagement is the act of choosing not to be alone. It is rooted in the belief that we are, in almost all situations, better off together. Engagement, by increasing the pool of available intelligence and passion, lies at the root of success. It’s a practical way of looking at the old, “all of us are better than any one of us.”
I’ve called engagement of others an “art”. That’s because whether we engage because of nature (inherent relationship skills) or nurture (those same skills learned over time) really doesn’t matter. Whether we come to them through fortune, fate or fluke, the key lies in putting those skills to work.
Engagement implies belonging, contributing and some level of loyalty. Engagement is about joining rather than leaving. It is about looking to make things work rather than looking for the next place to work.
An online study by Zane Benefits (zanebenefits.com) estimates that the cost to replace a “disengaged” employee ranges from 16-213% of their annual salary. Engagement reduces employee turnover, freeing up “replacement” resources for other, more productive purposes.
Another online study, this one published in Forbes magazine (forbes.com) looks at the engagement/disengagement idea from a different perspective – amount of time spent, at work, not focused on work related activities. Using a 2014 study of 750 participants, conducted by Salary.com, the Forbes column reported that 89% of all people surveyed admitted to spending at least 30 minutes (and as much as 5 hours) in an average working day on non-work related activity, including time spent on social media. In other words, 89% of survey participants are disengaged as much as ¾ of the time they’re at work.
Everyone is going to disengage to some degree, whether during a given day or across a job or career. This is not a pursuit of utopia, this is the pursuit of something far, far more achievable. Engagement drives success because it, literally, “engages” talent better, more often and for longer periods. It can’t help but matter.