Career & Education

One in every four Jamaican employees disengaged — survey

Sunday, September 10, 2017

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Following on its National Employee Engagement Report which found that only 41.5 per cent of Jamaican workers are actively engaged while on the job, the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) will be staging the inaugural Employee Engagement Conference with a view to increasing the figure.

It is scheduled for October 31, 2017 at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston.

The conference is being staged in partnership with The University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona and features world renowned executive engagement coach and author of The People Pill, Australian Ken Wright. Wright describes engagement as “the measure of a team's emotional commitment to their leader”, which he says is critical to the bottom-line.

According to Lisa Taylor-Stone, manager of JBDC's Project Management and Research Department, the National Employee Engagement Report, Jamaica - 2016 comprises data that was provided by over 500 employees representing 37 companies across multiple industries within the private and public sectors in Jamaica. The survey used convenience sampling over five months — January, 2015 - February, 2016.

It found that at the national level, 75.5 per cent of the labour force is engaged, with 41.5 per cent being 'actively engaged' and 35 per cent being 'moderately engaged'. This means that 24.5 per cent, approximately one in four employees, is either 'disengaged', moderately disengaged (20.5 per cent) or actively disengaged (2.5 per cent).

“The ideal scenario is to have your employees actively engaged as they feel connected to their job at least an average of 60 per cent of a regular work month. But with the moderately engaged — at least 20 per cent; passively disengaged — no more than 15 per cent; and the actively disengaged — no more than five per cent, one can decipher the low level of productivity and negative impact on the bottom-line and ultimately economic growth.

“Employee disengagement comes at a financial cost. For example, it costs the United States of America an average of US$168.5 billion per year. There is no dollar value of the impact of disengagement on the Jamaican economy. However, Jamaica has the lowest labour productivity rate (ie unit of output per worker) when compared to its major trading partners in the Caribbean and North America,” Taylor-Stone explained.

She argued that engagement must become a priority for employers in order to increase productivity in the workforce, adding that employers ought to be able to identify disengaged team members and implement strategies to increase engagement.

The JBDC report highlights the top four drivers of engagement in Jamaica at the national level as satisfaction and loyalty, perception of job, support and recognition, and development plans.

“People make up companies and companies contribute to the economy, so we must begin with the unit of analysis, which is the employee. At the organisational level, we found other drivers such as line of sight, which is critical, as employees should see themselves as beneficiaries from the company's growth as a result of their output. Perceptions of the job as a career is also significant, as you do not want employees working in your organisation only until better comes. Employees who see their jobs as a career are more successful,” Taylor-Stone added.

Several local experts are booked to present at the upcoming conference which targets executives and managers. They include Dr Orville Taylor, head of sociology, psychology and social work at UWI, Mona; Clement Branche, head of human resource development and graduate programmes, UWI, Mona; Dr Patricia Holness, former CEO, Registrar General's Department; Dr Carvell McLeary, senior director of human resource management and administration at Airports Authority of Jamaica; Dr Hopelin Hines, director of Total rewards and evaluation at Scotia Group Jamaica Ltd; Tyrone Wilson, president & CEO of eMedia Interactive Group Ltd; Desrine McFarlane, manager, business human resource for Jamaica and Trinidad at 3M Interamerica Incorporated; Melverine Hemmings, head of human resources at Red Stripe; Dr Sophia Morgan, organisational consultant and lecturer, UWI; and Taylor-Stone herself.

Topics to be explored include: employee engagement and productivity, creating a strategy to recognise and keep high-potential team members, converting employees into super-marketers, building trust and respect instead of being 'liked', leadership skills to build engagement and deal with disengagement, recognition and acknowledgement that cost nothing, staying purpose driven, engaging Generation Z through Creative Media, decent work and decent work places, engaging middle managers to engage employees, engaging the “sweet spot” and administering the “people pill”.

JBDC is an agency of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries.

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