I am sure you have seen the statistics: Only about every third employee in the US and every 9th employee (!) globally are engaged in their work. Moreover, these numbers seem to not moving all that much – despite more and more employers bringing out the foosball tables and free food.
Pretty much every time I speak to a younger/smaller company their leadership tells me that although this might be true for others, it surely isn’t true for them. Their employees are happy, engaged and committed to the cause (and company). The funny thing is – when I start talking to the employees I often find this not to be entirely as accurate.
The cost of employees who are not fully engaged is enormous – they do not do their best work, they are much more likely to leave you when they spot another opportunity they perceive as better and probably most importantly they do not strive for excellence. And there is little more important to a startup than being excellent at what you are doing – as you often find yourself competing which players who are better capitalized, have a bigger market share and brand recognition. Excellence becomes your core differentiator.
What is one to do with this conundrum? I believe you want to start with figuring out what your business is all about. Legendary founder and CEO of Southwest Airlines, Herb Kelleher astutely observed: “The business of business is people. Yesterday, today, tomorrow and forever.”
Put people truly first – I am convinced (and have seen this over and over again) that the rest will mostly take care of itself. To be more precise: The rest will be taken care of by engaged employees.