When people are engaged in their jobs, time flies and they forget they are working. They draw energy and mental resilience from their occupation. They feel enthusiastic, inspired, and proud of their work. Employee engagement sounds like something all of us can get behind—yet around the world, only about 30 percent of workers felt engaged before the pandemic.
The events of 2020 caused a downward blip everywhere, including within the U.S., but it turns out that employee engagement is remarkably stable, even during a pandemic and widespread social unrest. According to Gallup, we’re pretty much back where we started in early 2020.
What makes employee engagement especially important right now is that it’s a very strong predictor of workers’ performance during tough periods like an economic recession. Companies that have higher employee engagement will benefit across the board, in profitability, safety, absenteeism, product quality, turnover, productivity, and more.
The Perils of Employee Disengagement
About half of U.S. workers are “not engaged,” meaning they are not psychologically attached to what they do and where they do it. They are ripe for better opportunities elsewhere.
About 13 percent of workers, however, are “actively disengaged.” These disengaged employees spread their unhappiness about their miserable work experiences to those around them. Under these conditions, performance and innovation suffer.
Notably, Gallup reports that engagement dropped more for managers during COVID than for any other group – and since managers set the tone for the rest of their teams, keeping them engaged is paramount for companies’ success.
Understanding Workplace Mindsets
We all have a mindset—a cognitive belief system of interrelated beliefs, assumptions, and knowledge. We use our mindset to process information, make decisions, and guide our behavior. Within the workplace, mindset can manifest in the form of an employee mindset or an entrepreneurial mindset:
- Employee mindset – We are cogs in a wheel. My job is limited to only certain responsibilities. One day I will be able to retire. This place will never change.
- Entrepreneurial mindset – We succeed together. I have a solution to this problem. I love my work. The future is bright.
It’s easy to see which of these yields more people who are engaged in their jobs, for whom time flies to the point that they forget they are working. Whether they are contractors, full-time or part-time employees, or gig economy workers, those with an entrepreneurial mindset are more likely to feel energized, enthusiastic, inspired, and proud of what they do.
How to Establish (and Benefit from) an Entrepreneurial Paradigm
The term “entrepreneur” is often used strictly in a business sense. But there’s another, more inclusive definition that can be used instead: Entrepreneurship is the self-directed pursuit of opportunities to create value for others. By creating value for others, entrepreneurs empower themselves.
Successful entrepreneurs are often touted as exceptional individuals, a rare breed who seem to have been born with unique hereditary traits. In fact, an entrepreneurial mindset is most often acquired implicitly without conscious effort or awareness, which may explain why it often appears to be a dispositional trait, even though it is not. It can be developed and enhanced through entrepreneurial learning experiences within any organization, classroom, or communities.
Workplaces that promote an entrepreneurial mindset won’t see employee engagement automatically shoot sky high. But they will see an evolution toward more curiosity, intrinsic motivation, responsibility, resilience, and resourcefulness. And with those skills, employees are much more likely to want to impact the world—and to set compelling goals that will make it happen.
Rob Herndon has held numerous progressive leadership positions and has been involved in leadership development for over 29 years. As the President of the Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative, the world’s leader in entrepreneurial mindset education, he has trained thousands around the world on how to create a more innovative environment in their organizations. Learn more about www.elimindset.com.