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The Disengagement Disconnect

Over the weekend I read a report titled Re-Engaging with Engagement. It’s an Economist Intelligence Unit report sponsored by the Hay Group, and it featured feedback from senior level executives (primarily board level or C-suite) on their view of the challenge of employee disengagement.

I have the privilege of working with many organizations to help overcome the challenge of disengagement. In most of those organizations, I work with leadership at the very top. While I often see a difference of opinion from the people at the top to those on the front line, this report provided some pretty amazing statistics showing the disparity.

According to their research, 47 percent of C-suite executives believe they themselves have determined levels of employee engagement, while only 16 percent of senior directors outside the C-suite share that view. And when it comes to employee engagement in their company versus the competition, 20 percent believe their employees are “much more engaged” than the rival firm, while only 7 percent of those leaders lower in the organization share that belief.

Employee disengagement is a very real issue, and those in the C-suite seem to agree. According to this study, 87 percent believe that “disengaged employees are one of the three biggest threats facing our business.” That’s great, but the ability to overcome employee disengagement is a significant challenge … one that cannot be overcome if C-suite executives don’t have a realistic view of it throughout the organization.

If you’re struggling with the ongoing challenge of employee disengagement in your organization, is it the result of poor leadership efforts or a disconnect between those at the top and those on the front lines? And if it is the disconnect, is it because the culture won’t allow you to talk about the real issues in the organization, or are C-suite executives wearing blindfolds?

Clint Swindall

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