Got Engaged Talent?

May 11, 2008 by Ken Nowack

“All you need is ignorance and confidence; then success is sure.

Mark Twain

The world of work today is fundamentally different than in our parent’s era.  Free agency and portfolio careers are common place.  I refer to these changes as the “Changing Career Paradigms” and challenge you to diagnose where your organization lies on each of these fundamental career paradigm shifts ((Nowack, K. M. (2007).  Strategic Talent Management Through Career Paths.  Talent Management, 3 (4), p.16)).

Effectively managing talent today requires understanding of these paradigm shifts as well as the career concepts described below:


Job Security — Employability Security
Longitudinal Career Paths — Alternate Career Paths
Job/Person Fit — Person/Organization Fit
Organizational Loyalty — Job/Task Loyalty
Career Success — Work/Life Balance
Academic Degree — Continuous Relearning
Position/Title — Competencies/Development
Full-Time Employment — Contract Employment
Retirement — Career Sabbaticals
Single Jobs/Careers — Multiple Jobs/Careers
Change in Jobs Based on Fear — Change in Job Based on Growth
Promotion Tenure Based — Promotion Performance Based

The career alignment and values are different today than in our parents era but wanting to excel and doing great work hasn’t much changed over time.  So just how “engaged” are talent today? Here are some recent studies in global engagement from diverse sources:

  • A global workforce study conducted in 2005 by Towers Perrin that only 14% of the workforce were highly engaged at work, with a quarter being disengaged altogether
  • In a recent Gallup Management Journal, 59% of employees in the United States reported “not being engaged” and 14% were “actively disengaged” which Gallup describes as “undermining what their engaged coworkers accomplish”
  • A 2007 American Society of Training and Development (ASTD), the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) and Dale Carnegie and Associates survey of employee engagement suggested that 23% of talent were disengaged or minimally engaged with work
  • An ISR 2007 research study on five of the largest Asia-Pacific economies (Australia, China, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand) revealed Malaysia has the largest proportion (47%) of employees that define themselves as either disillusioned or actively disengaged followed by Singapore (40%) and all other countries above 30%
  • ISR also found that 88% of “at-risk” staff in China indicated they would leave their current positions while 92% of Australians and 95% of Singapore’s talent at risk planned to leave
  • In a 2006 Gallup survey, 80% of British workers reported that they lack commitment to their jobs with 25% being disengaged compared to only 12% in France

The changing career paradigm shifts coupled with low talent engagement and declining tenure certainly suggests a less interested talent pool.  An increased life expectancy + increased life span + aging population equals a reduced talent pool.

Well, it’s clear that different surveys with different definitions of “engagement” seem to suggest that creating a psychologically healthy climate for talent to feel energized is pretty important.  In fact, recent studies suggest that when talent shift from being “disengaged” to “highly engaged” performance can improve more than 20%.

The top “engagement drivers” seem to really come down to what leaders do each day and the connection between the work talent do and their belief about how much it matters to the organization.

Got engaged talent?…..Be well…..
[tags]career management, talent management, interests, loyalty, retirement, competencies, career paths, succession planning, engagement, retention, kenneth nowack, ken nowack, nowack[/tags]

Kenneth Nowack, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist (PSY13758) and President & Chief Research Officer/Co-Founder of Envisia Learning, is a member of the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations. Ken also serves as the Associate Editor of Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research. His recent book Clueless: Coaching People Who Just Don’t Get It is available for free for a limited time by signing up for free blog updates (Learn more at our website)

Posted in Engagement, Leadership Development, Relate

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