Aké Satia is the Chief Vision Officer at Aké Satia, a Human Capital firm in the DC area focused on strengthening organizations by bolstering the intersection of people strategy and business strategy.



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True Leaders Know That Keeping Their Workers Engaged Is Paramount!

Do you know what it costs organizations when employees are not engaged?

According to a study by Gallup and the Queen’s School of Business, disengaged workers cost the North American business economy over $350 billion annually in lost productivity.
Notably, this loss comes in several ways – including workers missing work, more accidents in the workplace, and more mistakes on the job (SOURCE: The Cost of Disengagement – HR Professional Now) Now, this information would make most business leaders perk up!

And when you reflect on your work experience, this might sound like a page out of your life story! Perhaps a colleague quit unexpectedly, and their departure resulted in missed deadlines. Or maybe this is part of your personal story – a time when you decided to leave a company and offer your unique skills and abilities to another organization because you were done wallowing in despair. Undeniably, when an employee leaves an organization, there is always a cost – whether the organization chooses to label the exit as good or regrettable. Therefore, as a leader, it is critical to know what compels someone to stay!

Admittedly with the Great Resignation (i.e., employees quitting their jobs in droves during and immediately after the COVID pandemic), there is renewed interest in employee engagement. Specifically to know what it takes to keep workers engaged so that they choose to stay on the job and contribute to the advancement of the organization. And to better understand this, let’s take a moment to delve into what employee engagement means.

Simply put, employee engagement is the strength of the mental and emotional connection employees feel toward the work they do, their teams, and their organization. SOURCE: What is Employee Engagement? What, Why, and How to Improve It. This is an astute definition of employee engagement because it acknowledges the reality that for human beings to be engaged, we must be both mentally and emotionally connected to our jobs, not solely physically present on the job. – And grasping this can be a challenge for leaders who measure organizational health primarily based on the number of hours an employee is on the clock!

Because many organizations invest a lot of resources in providing what employees need to physically perform the job, such as renovated office space and up-to-date technology. And this is useful. But the benefits of these investments could be unrealized if an organization does not meet its employees’ human needs – i.e., The mental and emotional needs that employees have in the workplace. And this is important because when an employee’s human needs are unmet in the workplace, it can result in an erosion of trust between workers and their employers.

And a glaring way in which this has surfaced recently is through the rise in labor unions. Unions gained popularity in the United States in the mid-1900s. And labor unions were a response to workers’ concerns about factors such as low pay, long hours, and unsafe working conditions. In effect, workers formed unions to protect their common interests.

Since then, many organizations have tried to strengthen their relationships with their employees. And eliminate the need for a middleman. – And many of these organizational efforts led to programs and incentives such as employee focus groups, paternal leave, and continuing education tuition reimbursement. And that is worth acknowledging!

But, in 2022, we have seen a resurgence of unions in the United States. – In 2021, there were about 14 million workers with membership in labor unions, compared to 17.7 million in 1983, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And today, that number is on the rise. – Employees in well-known companies such as Amazon, Apple, and Starbucks are organizing and voting to unionize. SOURCE – What Is a Union? | HR Exchange Network

And as one might expect, organizations are generally not fans of the union concept. And the decision to join a labor union is sometimes viewed as someone telling their partner: “Moving forward, I want my attorney to be present for our serious conversations. And I want them to speak for me.” – That message is hardly a vote of confidence! Indeed, the resurrection of unions is a strident message from employees to their organizations that they do not feel psychologically safe and do not trust the organizations to meet their human needs in the workplace.

But while this might sound like doomsday, it is not all gloomy! Indeed, this crack in the employee-employer relationship presents a prime opportunity for organizations! – A wake-up call for organizations to connect with their employees and understand their concerns and desires. And create an environment that allows them to contribute all they can. – And a key enabler in this process is communication. – To start, here is an approach that leaders can follow: SILR (Share. Inquire. Listen. Respond.)

Let your employees know what matters to the organization.

Ask your employees what is on their minds, what they need, and what they want.

See beyond the tone that employees use. And listen for the meaning behind what employees are saying.

Always provide a thoughtful response. And resist the tendency to come up with a fast answer.

Here’s to building organizations that stand the test of time and where employees thrive!

For you and to you,




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