Last week, USA Today published an article highlighting the destructive consequences of employee disengagement. Citing data from Gallup’s 2013 State of the American Workplace Report, the article reveals some startling data. When assessing a pool of 150,000 American workers:

  • Only 30% of employees describe themselves as “engaged and inspired at work”
  • 52% are “going through the motions” at their place of employment, present but not motivated or enthusiastic about their work
  • 18% of workers are “actively disengaged,” a term used to describe employees that have a deeply negative attitude towards their employer. Actively disengaged employees are a major concern to employers, as their negative attitude spreads discontent throughout the office, affecting everyone in its path.

It gets worse from here—Gallup estimates that these actively disengaged employees cost the US as much as $550 billion in lost productivity every year. Looking at this staggeringly high number, it’s clear that employee disengagement is a problem that companies cannot afford to ignore. As a result, many companies have begun to implement strategies to improve employee satisfaction, hoping that the result will be a more harmonious (and productive) workplace.

One of the strategies that companies have taken is to incentivize their employees with perks. Take Yahoo!, for example, who provides a sand volleyball court for employees to use to blow off steam during work hours. SC Johnson & Son (the makers of Windex and Glade) have an on-site concierge that will handle any errands that workers might need done during the day— pick up dry-cleaning, grab a few items at the drugstore, mail packages, send flowers, etc. Google famously offers “Nap pods” to their workers. Hallmark provides drivers in company vans to pick up employees willing to carpool to work.

The trend towards companies offering employee fringe benefits doesn’t show any indication of slowing down. But the big question is this: Although these perks and incentives sound great in theory, how much do they really impact employee engagement? 

Although these perks may give workers bragging rights among their friends, there is little evidence that they have and real or long-lasting effect on employee morale or productivity. The Associate Dean of Cornell University’s Graduate School of Management points out that  ”there’s a lot of research out there that says, although it depends on the employee, the perks come out as less important as job satisfaction.” In other words, the things that matters most in the workplace aren’t perks and benefits. Quite simply, it’s the atmosphere within the office that matters the most. If employees don’t feel that they are being valued, respected, or listened to, disengagement is the inevitable consequence. Perks can’t repair a negative work environment. They are simply a temporary cosmetic fix to a much deeper problem. 

The consensus among experts is that fostering a harmonious and collaborative work environment should be a company’s top priority. Allyson Willoughby, general counsel and senior vice president of people for said:

“What actually lands many companies high satisfaction ratings and a place on ‘best workplace’ lists is often a culture that encourages workers to voice opinions and work together, and that rewards those efforts. These are companies that have figured out a good way to take the pulse of their workforce, and understand what’s working and what’s not. They’re putting together that whole package that makes people happy.”

Clearly, collaboration and teamwork has become a significant priority in companies’ new hiring policies. “Companies’ policies and training efforts now more often emphasize collaborative management styles and teamwork,” said Allen. “Hiring managers have also begun focusing more on picking employees who work well with a variety of people, rather than those who just bring a specific skill set to the table.”

Creating a harmonious and collaborative work environment is easier said than done, especially since the qualities that companies have traditionally looked for when hiring employees, managers, and executives don’t always reflect a high value on collaboration and teamwork.  However, collaboration, communication, and teamwork are critical in all corporate positions. Without those qualities, communication can break down, hostility and resentment can emerge, and productivity and employee engagement will inevitably suffer.

One way that companies can ensure that they foster a harmonious and collaborative workplace environment is to use a tool like the D3 Report. The D3 Report is a DISC reporting tool that includes:

1)    The DISC Personality Style Assessment, which offers communication strategies specifically tailored to an employee’s personality type. This DISC report focuses on communication style, predictable behaviors, ideal environments, and behavioral strengths and limitations.

2)    The TEAMS Thinking Style Assessment, geared toward identifying an employee’s natural strengths in a team. This DISC report looks at the way that individuals process information and form strategies, and shows how these personality traits can be best used to create a productive and harmonious team environment.

3)    The Workplace Values Style Assessment, designed to identify the internal motivators that naturally impact and employee’s decision-making. This DISC report helps improve collaboration, team-building, and motivation, and can be used to prevent conflict between different personality styles.

The D3 DISC Report includes findings that speak to multiple areas that make up an individual’s personality, including communication style, thinking style, innate behavioral tendencies, and inner motivations. The result is an in-depth and well-rounded analysis of multiple facets of an individual’s personality, culminating in an action plan that gives a step-by-step description of how to best use the information in the D3 DISC Report to create a more productive, efficient, and harmonious workplace.

With a tool like the D3 DISC Report, companies can make sure that they are making the creation of a positive atmosphere within the workplace their top priority. Employees can learn how to better communicate their needs and voice their frustrations, and managers can learn how to motivate, engage, and listen to their staff. The result is an engaged, productive, and collaborative environment—The only real solution to definitively prevent employee disengagement. 


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