Part 2: Why Work Is Not Working

As discussed in part 1, Gallup found that 87 percent of workers worldwide are either not engaged or actively disengaged (70 percent in the US, 83 percent in the U.K. and 84 percent in Canada).

The good news is that improving the employee engagement statistics at your company will not involve money. Really.  Put your chequebook away because raises, bonuses, privileges and material incentives will not improve employee engagement.

This solution will however require that you do some soul searching, some communicating and maybe even make some personal and organizational changes.  One major reason why work is not working is because many of those disengaged Canadians could lack a sense of purpose.

Like Aaron Hurst said in his book entitled The Purpose Economy, you will not find your purpose by meditating on a mountain top!


mentor and coaching, leadership coaching in the workplace, employee engagement


Your purpose is the reason why you do something yet many have bought into the belief that ‘purpose’ means a quest to satisfy an insatiable hunger for money and status.  Common logic dictates that workers are intrinsically driven to achieve a high level of income and status that, once achieved make them feel successful.  Then, that feeling of success will fuel higher and higher levels of engagement. In service to this notion, employers have generously allocated massive incentives that include raises, bonus, prizes, gorgeous offices, expensive privileges and promotions that come with impressive titles.  Most employers have noticed that the positive effect that these have on engagement is short lived.  Rewarding with money and status actually buys into the perpetual downward spiral of disengagement, underperformance or worse, failing companies.

To quiet the demands for more money, better benefits or improved working conditions you must deliver on the following requirements:

o  Fair pay and reasonable benefits according to industry and geographical standards.

o  Fair, safe and reasonably comfortable working conditions that respect the physical, emotional and mental health of the entire workforce.

Once the employees know that those criteria are securely in place, the demands for more money and better conditions come off the table but these do not establish a sense of purpose and they do not ignite engagement.

If money and status don’t ignite a sense of purpose, what does?

  • To feel a positive sense of connection to each other throughout the ranks
  • To know their work contributes to the goals or the organization.
  • To be a part of the greater good that their company is in service to
  • To feel challenged, to be learning, to be growing, to be getting better, smarter, and/or stronger

In turn, this satisfied sense of purpose leads to engagement which leads to business success which leads to money and status.  The exquisite beauty of this concept is that there are no losers. Everyone benefits which means compound gain for employees and employers alike!




Leaders, lead the way!

Is it worth it to you to embark on the journey of igniting engagement or should you accept the principle that most of the success of your company is driven by a mere handful of people? Other research reported from Gallup may help you decide.  Organizations with high employee engagement experience:

  • 48 percent fewer staff safety incidents.
  • 37 percent lower absenteeism
  • 28 percent less theft (employees stealing from the company)
  • 25 percent to 65 percent lower turnover
  • 22 percent higher profitability
  • 21 percent higher productivity
  • 10 percent higher customer engagement

The benefits of high engagement have been reported for several years.  For example, research published by Blessing White in 2011 revealed that high engagement companies had total shareholder returns that were 19% higher than average while the low engagement firms fell 44% below average. That is a difference of 63%. (The 2011 Employee Engagement Report published by Blessing White Inc., Princeton NJ)

Business leaders can sometimes overlook the possibility that the level of employee engagement reflects their own and that employees already have that sense of purpose as outlined above. Here are some executive coaching questions to help you figure out whether or not they do.



Level One

  • Why does your company exist?
  • What need does the company serve in society?
  • What kind of a workforce do you need to achieve your company’s purpose?
  • Does every member of your workforce understand why their job is important?

Level Two

  • Do you know how the members of your workforce would answer those questions?
  • Are their responses in alignment with yours?

Level Three

  • Who do you need to be as a person to lead that workforce?
  • What attitudes, behaviours and words do you need to use to be that leader?

The answers to those questions are important because they serve as the ignition for employee engagement. To be sure that you are not making assumptions, walk around your company and ask your employees the questions above or, conduct professional employee engagement survey.  Ask your executive coach to support you with this project and if you don’t have one yet, The International Coach Federation can help you find one. Of course, you are welcome to reach out to me directly for a consultation. See my real-time availability here and reserve time with me:


The right question at the right time can be a mighty thing. These questions may inspire you, propel you to action or may serve as a switch that will shed light onto a solution that has been alluding you for too long.

The importance of employee engagement, why it is missing from many companies and how to achieve it are issues that I have been observing for most of my career.  Writing about my years of practice, fact-finding missions and observation, I am now very pleased to share my latest blog series on employee engagement, what it means and how to achieve it.


Part 1: Employee Engagement Not an Issue for You?  Think Again.

Part 2: Why Work Is Not Working

Part 3: The Hornet Nest and Change Leadership

Part 4: The Path to Performance and the Case for Coaching Culture

Part 5: The Portal to Success: The Executive Mastermind Alliance


If this or any of my posts strikes a chord with you, please leave your opinion or share your own story.