Blessing White puts out an employee engagement report each year outlining the previous year’s findings. I have been poring over all the information in the report and digesting all the data. I came across something that I found absolutely intriguing. The statement was made: Engaged employees in most regions stay for what they give; disengaged employees stay for what they can get.

Upon first reading I thought, “Isn’t employee engagement understanding what employees want in order for them to ‘connect’ with their work and the organization?” The difference seemed subtle on paper, but the more pensive I became around the data in the study, the more sense it made to me.

The obvious (what’s in it for me) bit for disengaged workers could be a myriad of things. They could range from a stable job in a not so great employment market to a preferred salary/bonus. Perhaps it’s nice working conditions or even career advancement. On the surface that seems like normal and expected desires. The results of this study show these are key factors to having a potentially disengaged worker. None of these things scream the intent to stay is based on commitment or a desire (or willingness) to apply discretionary effort to anything they do.

It was interesting that there was a distinction made between “career advancement” and “career development”. Engaged employees, in nearly every region and across nearly every engagement level, cited 2 factors as top of the heap.

  1. Career development opportunities and training
  2. More opportunities to do what I do best

What was conspicuously low on this list, in fact dead last, was “a better relationship with my manager”. People want to align themselves with the organization and have an outlet for their talent. Sure employees need to pay their bills and meet their survival needs, but an overwhelming majority of engaged employees simply wanted an outlet for their talent and to be continually developed in that talent.

Both of these factors mean productive workers for an organization. Who doesn’t want that? When this type of talent leaves it is viewed as unfortunate. So does this mean that when the disengaged workers, who want to be leeches and self-focused, leave it is beneficial attrition?

What are your thoughts on providing opportunities for employees to have an outlet for their talent within your organization?