Leveraging employee engagement in economic and workforce development

A recent publication by Maclean’s Magazine focused on Canada’s skilled-jobs crisis. With over 120 pages of content, the publication highlights the challenge facing many sectors, employers and job seekers. Estimating over 1.5 million skilled job vacancies by 2016, the magazine reiterates the challenges of lagging productivity and innovation as impediments to economic growth.

But recent research suggests that we must also consider a third element: employee engagement. Gallup, which has done anextensive study on the topic, defines engaged employees as “those that work with passion and feel a profound connection to their company. They drive innovation and move the organization forward”. How engaged employees are in their work can have significant economic impacts. In fact, low employee engagement is estimated to cost the U.S. economy roughly $370 billion a year.

Employee engagement is not just an issue in North America, though. This interactive map published by Harvard Business Review shows the percentage of engaged, not engaged and actively disengaged workers around the globe. As a reference, the U.S. has 30% of its workforce engaged, while Canada has 16%. Given the financial implications, not addressing worker engagement is detrimental to the business bottom line and to a nation’s economy.

For economic or workforce development practitioners and policy makers, a 2012 Global Workforce Study offers insight for organizational leadership on practices and strategies that can support sustainable engagement. The report also shares the perspectives of employees on work engagement and employee commitment and the influence of these on behaviour and performance. Recognizing that employees are the most valuable asset, focusing on PIE (productivity, innovation, and engagement) will benefit business, employees and the economy.

This post originally appeared in TINAN 50Subscribe to TINAN to get the latest economic development news and resources.