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Turning around a disengaged workforce

We worked with the Australian subsidiary of a global technology and manufacturing company to help them create conditions to engage their workforce. A major concern of the senior executive was that their engagement surveys revealed pockets of their workforce was disengaged. This was costing their business millions of dollars per year in lost productivity and production.

The senior executive did not want to embark on program of redundancies to cut staff only to then suffer the consequences of lost productivity through low morale. They preferred to build employees resilience, confidence and self-esteem by directly challenging staff to take responsibility for their careers.

The company needed to have employees who recognised and appreciated their current level of engagement; who understood the impact of that engagement on their performance and the performance of others; and who took responsibility to do something about it my considering:

• Changing aspects of their current role (job design, enhance quality of relationships)

• Changing jobs through secondment, transfer or promotion

• Taking on special projects or other short-term assignments

• Exiting the organisation

The program was implemented over a four-year period to more than 125 participants ranging from administrative, technical, sales, professional and managerial backgrounds.

A large proportion of program participants (78%) were technically “disengaged”. The program provided the perfect opportunity for them to enrich their career by inspiring them to take responsibility for their career engagement and to make appropriate choices to stay, move or go.

A comprehensive evaluation of the program revealed that 74% chose to stay working with the organisation and 26% willingly decided to exit. Out of those people surveyed who stayed:

  • 72% stayed working in the same role with many varying the role requirements to keep them rejuvenated
  • 18% were transferred or seconded to other internal positions
  • 18% were promoted.

Furthermore, for those who stayed, since attending the program:

  • 72.5% indicated that they had changed as a person
  • 37.5% changed career plans
  • 50% said that things had improved.

Of those that did exit:

  • Only 6% of those were highly
  • 25% were moderately engaged
  • 53% reported low levels of engagement

Therefore the program was successful in encouraging people who were “disengaged” to take responsibility for their career even if that meant exiting from the organisation.

A more detailed version of this case study was published in the Australian Institute of Training and Development magazine in 2008.  For a copy of the full article click here.

To read about other case studies click here.


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