Thank God It’s Monday: What It Takes For True Employee Engagement

© Yuri Arcurs -
© Yuri Arcurs -

Thank God It’s Monday

While waiting on the bus the other morning, one of the other gentlemen at the stop started complaining about the local bus that makes the same stop as the express bus which we both catch. The driver of the local bus stops when she wants to, regardless of the number of people trying to flag the bus down.

“She always has attitude with passengers” he said. “Maybe it is because it is 6:25 in the morning,” I replied jokingly. No he assured me, she is always like that.

This conversation brought me back to another driver that I knew from another bus route that I took years back.

Engaged vs. non-engaged

This driver was the perfect example of the engaged worker. He was the exact opposite of the above mentioned driver.

He knew all his passengers. He always had a piece of conversation for everyone. His personality would melt even the most hardened faces. I would always watch with amazement as to how he had the passengers eating out of his hand.

If he did not see you for a few days, he mentioned it. I would watch him intensely, waiting for the opportunity that I could “interview” him. I wanted to know what his secret was.

One of the things that I have always noticed is that when people commute, their attitudes become brighter the closer Friday comes, while on Monday, everyone is buried in their paper, iPod, Kindle or whatever device or distraction they have.

Friday vs. Monday

There seems to be no conversation beyond the occasional nod of the head. But when Friday rolls around, the cloud is lifted and you hear conversation all along the platform. The smiles are back, the swagger is awakened again, their is the sound of laughter. The acronym TGIF thusly is well earned.

As I left work early one day and headed to the bus terminal in New York City, my bus pulled in and my favorite driver was behind the wheel. Here was my chance because I knew that I would have front row seats to this performance and I could have that engagement conversation that I had wanted to have with him.

“I love to drive” was his reply when I asked him his secret of how do he stays so even keeled and joyous. He said that he cannot wait to get to work and get on “his” bus and meet with “his” riders. He said he can’t wait until Mondays roll around.

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A few years back, my wife and I were sitting out in our backyard on a Sunday afternoon, when I wistfully asked her, “Do you ever wish that you could fast forward Sunday so that Monday is here and you are at work?” You can just imagine the look that she gave me. There is no need for me to give you the answer.

Ratio of engagement

What makes some workers just love their job so much, while you have others that are in the same environment see things differently? Imagine for a second that if you could get 70-80 percent of your organization to love their jobs that much.

Gallup created an engagement ratio that they feel is an indicator of an organizations health..

  • In world-class organizations, the ratio of engaged to actively disengaged employees is 9.57:1.
  • In average organizations, the ratio of engaged to actively disengaged employees is 1.83:1.

Actively disengaged employees erode an organization’s bottom line while breaking the spirits of colleagues in the process. Within the U.S. workforce, Gallup estimates this cost to be more than $300 billion in lost productivity alone. In stark contrast, world-class organizations with an engagement ratio near 8:1 have built a sustainable model using our approach. As organizations move toward this benchmark, they greatly reduce the negative impact of actively disengaged employees while unleashing the organization’s potential for rapid growth.”

True engagement

Creating a great work environment will be the foundation of a great growth strategy. Engaged workers say ”my customers.” Engaged workers say “my company.” Engaged workers feel empowered. Their customers feel it as well as their co-workers.

As HR folks, what could we be doing with our programs to truly engage my employees? To delight them? To surprise them? To involve them? To give them something they can’t help but talk to other people about?

Thank God it’s Monday.

Ron Thomas is Managing Director, Strategy Focused Group DWC LLC, based in Dubai. He is also a senior faculty member and representative of the Human Capital Institute covering the MENA/Asia Pacific region.

He was formerly CEO of Great Place to Work-Gulf and former CHRO based in Riyadh. He holds certifications from the Human Capital Institute as Global Human Capital Strategist, Master Human Capital Strategist, and Strategic Workforce Planner.

He's been cited by CIPD as one of the top 5 HR Thinkers in the Middle East. He received the Outstanding Leadership Award for Global HR Excellence at the World Human Resources Development Congress in Mumbai, and was named as one of the 50 Most Talented Global HR Leaders in Asia

Ron's prior roles included senior HR positions with Xerox HR services, IBM, and Martha Stewart Living.

Board memberships include the Harvard Business Review Advisory Council, McKinsey Quarterly's Executive Online Panel, and HCI's Expert Advisory Council on Talent Management Strategy.

His work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Inc. Magazine, Workforce Management and numerous international HR magazines covering Africa, India and the Middle East.


4 Comments on “Thank God It’s Monday: What It Takes For True Employee Engagement

  1. Hello Ron, your story is a great example of good “fit”.  If you have a really good fit between employee and job or corporate culture, you get amazing results, commitment and passion.  Unfortunately, it is more common to have a mismatch – thus the lower engagement ratio.

    I love the challenge of finding ways to engage my employees, in their job tasks, in commitment to the success of their work team, and their passion about the company mission.  Frequent communication, and an open and honest environment gives on the best chance to make sure employees are a good ‘fit’ and thus provide a higher level of engagement.

    Now all you managers (at all levels), get out their and listen to your employees talk, and engage them yourself!

    Thanks for the post!

  2. I’m glad you mentioned this, Ron. Employees who aren’t engaged are often ineffective – but they’re rarely ineffective because they’re incompetent. Rather, they struggle to perform because they don’t fit their company’s culture:

  3. I couldnt agree more, you can provide someone with the KSAs to do a job, however you are hardly ever successful at changing people behavior to fit in the with culture.

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