Posted by Susanne Earle in Leadership | 0 comments

Have you ever worked in an organization where everyone was miserable, where no one wanted to be there and the highlight of everyone’s day was quitting time? Unfortunately, many modern-day workplaces are filled with clock watchers; workers who yearn for the hands on the clock to move faster so that they can high-tail it out of there and forget about their work day over a few beers.

As a student, I can remember many summer jobs working in factories alongside people that had been there for many years. The prevailing sentiment was, “this place sucks” “the boss is an idiot” and “what bar is everyone going to after work?” I can remember at first thinking that these people seemed very ungrateful for their jobs, but it didn’t take long for the culture to affect me. In trying to fit in and belong, I soon became like them; their behaviour was contagious.

According to numerous research studies, a staggering number of North American workers are disgruntled, dissatisfied, disengaged, and feel deeply disregarded by their employer. Gallop reports that roughly 20% of employees are actively disengaged. These employees have bosses that make them miserable and spread discontent. About 50% of workers are not engaged; they’re present but not inspired by their work or their leader.


Image courtesy of ambro/

What affect does this have on the human spirit? And how does all of this affect the bottom line?

Well, to put it mildly, this environment is not good for people and it’s not good for business. Our attempts to make workplaces fair to all, to treat everyone the same and to prepare for and control every possible scenario has created bureaucratic, policy ridden environments that are bogged down with red tape and are plagued with disconnection, tension and an us-against-them mentality. The traditional autocratic, directive, top-down leadership of the twentieth century just doesn’t cut it anymore and is creating workers who are just plain unhappy, unhealthy and unproductive.

So what’s the fix? Thankfully, there are many organizations that are now responding to this problem. Astute business owners are discovering that even one ineffective leader can have a huge detrimental effect on the success of their company and in response they are transforming their leadership practices. By creating more caring, supportive environments where employees are highly valued and respected for their individual qualities and are encouraged to grow, achieve, and fulfill their potential, companies are gaining a competitive edge over others, financially surpassing more traditionally run companies.

And there is plenty of evidence to support this positive trend. Canada’s Top 100 Employers 2013 competition winners include large and small companies from a range of industries. What is common to all top 100 employers is that they are all leaders in their industry, are great at attracting and retaining top talent and are very successful and profitable.

At Google, their number one mission is to be the best workplace on earth. Google places high value on employees, giving them a significant voice in how the company is run. In nine years, their stock has skyrocketed by 800%.

And what does Gallup say about fixing the employee engagement problem? Gallup’s research has found that the factor most affecting employee engagement is leadership. Companies who provide coaching for their leaders are most successful in engaging employees and increasing the bottom line. Coaching involves working with leaders to build engagement plans, hold them accountable to those plans, track progress and continually focus on emotionally engaging others. Gallup’s Great Workplace Award winners include employee engagement in each leader’s formal review process and as criterion for promotions.


Image courtesy of ambro/

The bottom line is this; when leaders truly value, respect and authentically care for their employees, the company thrives. This goes beyond proclaiming that “people are our greatest asset.” It is much more than that. There is truly a shift that is happening in organizations today. Organizational survival will soon be dependent upon more caring, collaborative and engaging leadership practices. Just like global competition sparked the quality movement of the 1970’s where delivering ever increasing quality standards was a matter of survival, so too is the push toward more effective leadership. As competitive pressures increase, companies who embrace leadership development and stay ahead of the curve will come out on top.

Susanne Earle

As a leadership and executive coach, Susanne works with organizations to enhance the skills of the leadership team, cultivating environments where talent thrives, staff are engaged and profits soar.

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