Brave New World, or Fear the Phone?

Love this infographic on use of mobile phones. Fear the phone.
Cell Phones Kill
Created by: Online Masters Degree

Occupy My Workplace: Have Employees Hit the Wall? (Part I)

Wait a minute, let me put on my fortune-telling hat. It will make me look so much cooler before I prognosticate.  There, that’s better.

Now,  for the workplace forecast. Recruiters, update your LinkedIn network and do some mouse-finger exercises because you can expect to see significant gains in job growth in the next year.

Just don’t look behind the curtain, because my prediction isn’t based on magic. It’s rooted in two recent statistics.

The first comes from a report from Modern Survey last week that employee engagement has hit a new low with 70 percent of employees now disengaged or under engaged at their jobs — a record high since the agency began tracking the statistic in 2007.

The second comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which reported an increase in business sector productivity of 3.2 percent in 2010, the largest increase recorded in this series which began in 1987.

Since businesses began shedding jobs at the outset of the recession, employees have lived the overused catchphrase of “doing more with less.”  During this period, the top employee issue went from compensation or career growth to job security.  People hunkered down and took on additional responsibilities for fear of being counted among the growing unemployment statistic.  Thus, productivity gains.

But this latest report from Modern Survey reveals something interesting about the mindset of employees. Call it a silent protest of sorts — Occupy My Workplace, if you will.  It looks as if employees have hit the “wall,” so to speak. According to Modern Survey, the number of engaged employees dropped from 15 percent to 8 percent in one year, and among engagement indicators, discretionary effort has seen the “furthest erosion,” dropping 10 percentage points since last year.

Yet the survey indicates that only one fifth of workers are currently looking for a new job.  Folks are holding tight, but aren’t putting forth any additional effort to help the company grow.  The trend line for productivity may have topped out in terms of labor efficiency.  The sheen on the internal “value proposition” is tarnished. The survey results suggests people feel disenfranchised having watched earnings grow and companies stockpile cash in record amounts while they have been working harder picking up the slack from those who used to occupy those empty cubicles beside them.

The engagement survey represents a leading indicator; while the productivity measure represents a lagging indicator. When the Bureau of Labor Statistics comes out with its next productivity statistics, I’m guessing we’ll see that trend begin to level off or decline. Unless technology steps in with some Jetson-like invention that creates major new efficiencies in the workplace, businesses may ultimately be forced to hire more people to maintain or increase output.

In part two of this post, we’ll look at what employers can do to address declining employee engagement.

Disclaimer:  The information provided on or within this website is for assistance only and is not intended to be and must not be taken alone as the basis for an investment decision. Besides, I am neither a certified investment adviser or human resources professional. But I am really good at coming up with plausible explanations based on random shit. Just ask my wife.

Pass the toilet paper and other tales of employee engagement

More than half of mobile phone users in the U.S. talk or text from the bathroom, according to a recent survey by  Insight Express’ Digital Consumer Portrait.

Toilet Paper

Never pass up an opportunity for employee engagement.

According to the study, 56 percent of people reportedly use their mobile phones in the bathroom. For years, keen communicators have been posting fliers on the back of bathroom stalls to convey their messages to a captured audience.  So, do these latest survey results represent an opportunity for communicators to engage with their audiences?  I’m sure there’s an app for that.

Going to the bathroom has always seemed to be more of a social event for women, who often travel together to take mother nature’s call. For guys, if we do encounter someone else in the bathroom, it’s eyes straight ahead, no talking please.  But I don’t think the same rule applies in the social media world.

For example, not long ago I tweeted an announcement about some organizational changes that included oversight for University Housekeeping.  It ended up as a rather unique opportunity for employee engagement. No shit.  See the exchange below.


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