My readings and research tell me that we "lose" $5 trillion annually to the direct costs of employee turnover. Additional research indicates that we lose another $200 billion annually to "presenteeism"; the spending on health benefits related to stress, lost productivity due to employees dealing with personal issues at work, and the difference between contributions from employees operating at full versus marginal productivity. I saw research recently that said in addition to those costs we send over $100 billion annually on training and development in corporate America and yet less than 10% of those dollars result in meaningful and sustained change.
My math has never been my strength, but it would seem that the "lost" opportunity that these costs represent approaches five and a half trillion dollars in the U.S. economy annually. So if we addressed some of these we could pay for health care five times over and have money left over to address other critical issues like maybe education, homeless folks, and other similar societal issues. So what am I missing?
Our current economic system has retreated in a way to a kind of capitalistic feudalism. The industrial revolution was largely based on "dumbing down" tasks and activities to make them simpler and therefore more "efficient". The skills required to perform these tasks decreased and correspondingly so did the wages. Technology provide even further assistance, machines and "systems" can do what people used to do cheaper, faster, and many times more efficiently. In exchange for "compliance" we offered employees a certain degree of economic security. Then a world economy happened. Other economies began using "our" systems combined with their own enhancements and lower wages and we lost our competitive advantage. Our solution in many cases was outsourcing to these economies. At the root we forgot to include people in our "solutions", and now we are paying for it.
Research about engagement demonstrates that the U.S. economy is operating at about 30% of its potential efficiency. Before other economies gloat too much I would point out that this puts us in the top quartile.
Organizations that have a well developed engagement strategy enjoy significant advantages in productivity, profitability, and sustainability. Those terms sound pretty capitalistic to me.
Engagement is not measured exclusively by employee "satisfaction" or tenure. It is not a short term strategy or for the faint hearted. It also requires to examine and rebuild our relationships between: employer and employed, "vendor" and customer, and organization and community. We need to examine how we hire, how we train, how we reward, how we communicate, and most importantly how we relate to and value one another. The upside is that properly executed we can recapture some of those trillions and address compelling issues and not spend anymore money.
Is is just me or does that "value proposition" sound interesting? So I would ask again:
- If not now when?
- If not us then who?
Looking forward to your thoughts......