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  • Ian Gregory


The three big words in the workforce today are recruitment, retention and training. You would think that when the problems in the workplace are identified, that solutions also would be identified, applied, improved, and voila, problem solved. Only in this case, not only has it not solved the problem, it has become worse. So let me give you a few statistics from some big surveys.

In 2018, ADP Research (which surveys worldwide), found that 16% of the global workforce considers itself to be fully engaged (which leaves a whopping 84% are not engaged). Those are the worst numbers we have ever seen globally. Ever. ITA Group Research in 2019 found that engaged employees are 15 times more likely to recommend their company to friends and colleagues, almost twice as willing to learn new skills and responsibilities, and six times more likely to plan on staying for a full career. Good old Gallup in 2017 found that a highly engaged workforce leads to a 41% reduction in absenteeism (wow!), a 17% increase and productivity, and an astonishingly high 59% less turnover.

It would seem, on the surface that organizations aren’t paying attention or even trying to solve these problems, but you’d be wrong. Organizations are very aware that worldwide, trillions are being lost because of these numbers and they really have been trying to solve these problems (as they should, seeing as how most of them have boards and stockholders to answer to).

They have increased pay and benefits, they have instituted reward and recognition programs, they have invested in better technology and infrastructure and they have been much more flexible in their scheduling and yet the numbers keep going in the wrong direction. I’m sure most of you have figured out the solution by now. It’s Leadership, It’s Always Leadership!

Why is leadership so important and what is it that it does that strengthens recruitment, improves retention, and makes training relatable and growth oriented so that the improvement is for the individual and the organization? The first, and by far the most important thing you need leadership to do, is care. They must care about the organization, what it is the organization does, how the people who work there contribute to the outcomes, and they must find ways to care about making the outcomes, the people and the organization, better.

When you care, you can’t stand on either your or your people’s achievements, because you’re chasing continuous improvement. You are always looking for new and better ways to do things. The best part of that is you need your people for this. Someone always has a better way and if leadership cares they will be listening for that better way and they will act on it.

Too often, leadership is not listening and status quo becomes the rule of the day. Don’t stand out, don’t make waves, just do your job, keep your head down and get the job done. If you’ve ever heard any of those, your leadership is letting you down.

All leaders should know the mission statement of the organization they serve, they should make sure their workers know it too and what it means to their workday. You see, people like to know how they are doing, they want feedback on what’s allowed and what is not, they want to know how they are personally doing and if they are contributing to the cause. A mission statement provides direction.

We are working with an organization that called its people “factory workers”, they were nothing more than piece work people and turnover was a problem. When we took our tour and asked our questions, it became apparent that they were so much more than that. They made cutting tools and quite literally, they were everywhere. Because of them, automobiles were much safer as were the families that rode in them, farmers produced more per acre, saving time and money, planes were faster, safer and more economical all because a medium sized factory decided they could make cutting tools better than anyone else and they set out to prove it.

Leadership could now thank their personnel for the effort expended, they could challenge their people to do even more and the people responded. Everything changed when leadership treated them like experts in shaping the future of America. They responded with better work, more of it and became interested in an apprenticeship for future leaders, thereby trying to ensure that current and future leadership is properly trained and guided by foundational principles that grew people and organizations. Pretty simple huh?

Revisit your mission statement and start thinking about how you can grow your people. It’s Leadership, It’s Always Leadership.


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