Managers Hold the Key to Employee Engagement. Why Don't They Use It?

It’s been said people don’t quit their jobs, they quit their managers. Pretty much everyone has a story about a “bad manager” and why they chose to leave that manager to work for someone else.


I’m convinced managers hold the key to employee engagement and retention. Why do I think that? Here's the data:


- The Gallup organization tells us that, globally, only 15% of people are engaged in the work they do, meaning they're highly involved in and enthusiastic about their work and workplaces. In the US and Canada things are a bit better. We’ve got about 34% engagement. That sounds pretty good. After all, it’s twice as high as other parts of the world. However, that means that, at any given time, we have about 66% of our employees open to new job opportunities, thinking about leaving, or actively job hunting. Gallup also tells us that about 17% of our workforce is actively disengaged. This means they are one foot out the door or, worse, have quit and stayed, just putting in time and collecting a paycheque until they retire, but not contributing much.

- The average tenure in a job, in the US, is about 4.3 years - which doesn't sound all that bad. However, this number is an average, which means the 11% of people who stay in a job for 20 or more years is skewing the data a bit. The most sobering fact is 21% of people stay in a job for less than 1 year. So much time, effort, and money is spent on new hires. To lose them within the first year is a serious drain on a company’s resources.

- Here is another staggering statistic. 52%. This is the number of people who said they would have stayed with their current company had they had a meaningful conversation with a manager within the last 3 months of their employment. Consider that for a moment. More than half of the people surveyed reported they would have stayed with their company had someone just talked to them. This tells us that employees leave their work because they feel unwelcome, undervalued, unnecessary, and neglected. No one wants to feel that way. Ever. Digging a bit deeper... 52% of $1 Trillion is $520 billion. That is the amount of money that could be saved, by businesses, had their managers just talked to their employees. Wow…


I have spoken to so many people who simply want to develop a relationship with their managers, want their voices heard, and their contributions recognized. It’s actually pretty simple to do this. By using one tool—the One-on-One Conversation. Here’s how it works… Devote half an hour per week for conversation with each of the people who report to you. During that conversation, touch on issues that are important to the employee, to the manager, and the employee's professional development. A template for the conversation is available on my Resources page. That’s it—one simple tool. It costs nothing to put in place (my template is free!), and the returns are huge.