As companies claw their way out of the doldrums of The Great Recession the time is rapidly approaching to prepare for the next wave of growth. Traditionally, this means ramping up the hiring process, investing in new technology, or a combination of both. As we attempt to catch the upswing out of the trough of the most recent business cycle, many enlightened companies are looking in another direction to increase their productivity and capacity. They’re looking inside of their companies for the resources they’ll need to drive growth in the coming years.

A leading international research and consulting firm that has been tracking employee engagement levels for a decade indicates less than thirty percent of a typical company’s employees are fully engaged with their employer. A fully engaged employee is a person that shows up with passion and maintains a strong emotional and intellectual connection with their employer. The other seventy-one percent? Well, a typical company can anticipate well over fifty percent of their associates are not emotionally engaged with their company. In effect, they’re sleepwalking through most of their day, going along to get along. About a sixth of an organization’s associates are actually working at cross purpose with their fellow associates and the company, actively destroying the value others are trying to create. In fact, our own internal research indicates a typical American company is only enjoying a return on investment on approximately forty-three percent of their payroll dollars. And that is giving the sleepwalkers in the company the benefit of the doubt that they’re contributing value half of the time they’re at work (additional independent research actually supports this figure). In addition, a report by the AP this winter indicated forty-five percent of employees were dissatisfied with their jobs.

In today’s highly dynamic, global economy, intellectual property is the driver of value creation in business. Whether a company is engaged in biotechnology, information technology, telecommunications, health care, or professional services, human beings and their intellectual contributions are the raw material for production. If we go back a generation, how many manufacturing concerns would accept a fifty-seven percent scrap rate on raw materials used in their factories? That’s exactly what is happening in many companies today! Employee disengagement is a crisis which is eroding many firm’s competitive capabilities. In crisis, however, lies opportunity.

The solution lies in re-engaging the sleepwalkers. Very few people show up to work everyday wanting to fail, but a sizable percentage of the American workforce has been conditioned not to take risks, to do just enough to get by, and to keep their heads down lest they risk having them lopped off in the next reorganization or merger frenzy. These employees can, however, be re-engaged and emerge as passionate, contributing associates. I’ve experienced this firsthand, and it can be done in surprisingly short order!

The solution resides in the hands of leadership. Research indicates the only statistically significant difference between inspirational leadership and mediocre management is authentically caring about your people. By aligning the genuine welfare of associates in balance with performance, remarkable and rapid shifts in employee engagement begin to emerge. Through open, authentic, and continuous two-way communication, the introduction of Professional Development Plans, and through the simple expression of gratitude and appreciation, a disengaged workforce can show dramatic signs of improvement in a few short months. And this is where the productivity breakthrough emerges!

Companies can proactively sidestep the cost of employee turnover, training new employees, and the productivity lags associated with expanding the workforce by simply engaging the trained, experienced workforce that is already in place. Imagine the impact on the bottom line when companies experience a fifty, seventy-five, or even one hundred percent increase in productivity without increasing payroll! This is the opportunity that is laying quietly just beneath the surface; the hidden workforce yearning for inspiration and engagement.

Author's Bio: 

Terry Murray is a professional coach and business executive with twenty-five years of progressive experience in strategic development, executive leadership, and the deployment of highly profitable business teams. His executive leadership with Fortune 1000 and start-up companies has directly contributed more than $1 billion in market capitalization growth throughout his career.
Terry is the founder and president of Performance Transformation, LLC a Professional Coaching and Strategic Development firm focused on igniting breakthrough performance through the authentic engagement and development of human talent. The company’s evidence-based programs and philosophical approach employs their proprietary Adaptive Coaching Process™. The organization’s engagements align the clients’ human capital with their strategic imperatives driving tangible results, delivering a sustainable competitive advantage and an exceptional Return on Investment.
Terry is a graduate of The Whittemore School of Business, University of New Hampshire and a veteran of U.S. Naval Intelligence. He has just completed his first book, “The Law of Traction ~ Engaging the Mind, Heart, & Spirit for Entrepreneurial Success”.