by Tim Eisenhauer
President & co-founder, Axero
Employee engagement has been linked to every positive business outcome: innovation, productivity, employee and customer loyalty, even stock performance. At the same time, surveys say that less than a third of corporate America feels right at the workplace. That leaves the rest—many managers and execs among them—wishing they were somewhere else. Every day these brave souls must silence their brains and numb their senses just to set foot at work. And we wonder what happened to their creativity and drive.
Workplace cynicism is so widespread that we think of it as normal. The fact is, it amounts to a lot of suffering and loss. Think of all the money we lose as a nation because we don't give a damn about our work. Gallup estimates the loss of productivity due to "actively disengaged" employees at $450 to 550 billion per year! It's more than the revenues of the NFL, Apple, Google, McDonalds, and the entire recording industry, combined. And that's not even including the simply "not engaged" folks who make up the majority of the US workforce.
Obesity has been called an epidemic. Yet it pales in comparison with the problem of employee disengagement. (CDC puts the number of obese adults over the age of 20 at 35%. And it costs the U.S. just over $300B per year.) To make things worse, the disengagement crisis strikes us at a time when we can least afford it. To grow our economy and solve the many problems facing the US and the world, we need the opposite of what we have today—a highly engaged and motivated workforce.
In the past three decades many books have been written to dispel the belief that money motivates people, and many more to advance theories about what does. In the last five years, Big Data entered the conversation with measuring, tracking and decoding employee sentiment. The new analytics made a splash across the business media. The impact on the workforce? Little to none. Nevertheless, the engagement conversation has been shifting from talking to employees to talking about employees and second-guessing their sentiments. This is not a good trend.
Who the Hell Wants to Work for You? is not a theoretical book. It's built around 23 practices all engaged workplaces have in common.
Every job I've had, every company I've run, every book, every study, and every business article I've come across have confirmed to me the wisdom of these principles. And now that NASDAQ flagships, like Google, Facebook, and many others, have all adopted them into everyday practice, no company can afford to ignore them. Because not only do employees mentally disengage from companies that don't get them, they physically abandon these companies in favor of those that do.
This movement is massive, global, and irreversible.
To survive it, a company must learn to work with people on their terms—or there will be no one left to work for it.
Okay. No one can learn people management from a book. Some natural talent and a lot of trial and error is necessary. Unfortunately, these are far from sufficient, as countless talented managers and CEOs continue to do things their employees hate. And, while feeling the pressure—always feeling the pressure—to do better, these managers have no way of tracing disappointing results back to their own policies and workplace habits.
The human aspect of people management has been left out of most MBA programs, and, sadly, out of most people's on-the-job training. Who the Hell Wants to Work for You? is an attempt to fill this colossal void with the best information available today.
Of course, the amount of business advice already on the market is overwhelming. But so is the need for something that works. Managers are slashing bonuses. Nobody wants to be the bad guy—but the numbers just aren't there… Meanwhile Facebook is trading at 100x earnings, giving shares away to charities, and paying both parents to take a maternity leave!!
Imagine every new manager starting out by reading a book about what really works with employees. To brush up on what he already knows and learn his blind spots before being thrown into the pit with already suspicious and disgruntled subordinates. Would these managers break the vicious cycle of pressure and blame? Would they take a stand for new workplace habits and ideas? Would they be able to transform people, relationships, and culture? I believe that many would jump at the chance.
What if this book actually made a better manager? What if just one CEO recognized this and gave it as a welcome gift to everyone in the company who was promoted or hired into management? Would others jump on the bandwagon? What if management-training courses made it a part of their curriculum? And what if the book was so interesting and so entertaining that no one could put it down?
While jobs are a big turn-off for most Americans, some employers have succeeded spectacularly in turning people on to mindful, passionate and committed service.
What is their secret?
The secret is not really a secret in the sense that no one's ever heard of it. Some of the advice has been published in business books and periodicals, and some is just plain common sense. The problem is not that we don't know. It's just that it's not always clear how to make these ideas everyday reality, especially when they go against our usual ways of doing business.
Let's talk about making all the right things come naturally. How do break-away companies reset their defaults and put inertia on their side?
Most of all, engaged companies get empowerment. They know how to set people up for maximum contribution regardless of their assigned roles. Would Whole Foods be Whole Foods without empowering their cashiers to make small talk with the customers? Would LinkedIn be LinkedIn without empowering programmers to pitch their ideas to the CEO? Would Starbucks be Starbucks if a small group of employees didn't invent the Frappuccino on their own time? Would thousands of successful startups survive among millions of failures if they didn't empower their people to make connections and solve problems?
This book is for managers, c-level executives, and business owners. As it is for people who want to someday manage and own businesses. It doesn't matter what industry you are in, everything in this book can be applied to your daily work. How do you get your employees to want and love to come to work everyday? Wouldn't it make your life so much easier?
Who the Hell Wants to Work for You? is about a new mindset. It explains and unifies the groundbreaking practices of America's most admired companies. It shows the role of individuals, managers, and executives in building a new kind of a workplace. And it uses the collective experience of hundreds of employers through research and case examples to help the manager transform his mind, his team, and his business.
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