Written by: Marc Thaler

Are you engaged?

The question could rank among the all-time worst pick-upHappiness-300x300 lines. But in this context, it has nothing to do with your dating life. It has everything to do with your professional life – specifically how happy (or unhappy) your job makes you feel.

In June, Gallup released its 2013 State of the American Workplace. The survey revealed that just 30% of U.S. workers (approximately 30 million people) are “engaged” employees. They are passionate about their jobs and feel connected to the company that employs them.

What about the other 70%? Gallup determined that 50% are “not engaged” and simply going through the motions. The remaining 20% have such animosity for their employer that, as “actively disengaged” workers, their aim is to drag the company down in a variety of ways.

“If your company reflects the average in the U.S., just imagine what poor management and disengagement are costing your bottom line,” Gallup Chairman and CEO Jim Clifton wrote in the report.

Gallup found that the U.S. loses between $450 and $550 billion a year due to the decreased productivity of unhappy employees. Equally alarming is the fact that, despite an uncertain economy, 2.1 million U.S. workers in the private sector quit their jobs over the last four years. That figure, part of the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, represents a 42% increase between late 2009 and this past July.

Workforce unhappiness is an issue overseas as well. The Edenred-Ipsos Barometer 2013 surveyed European workers in six countries. Findings show nearly half (48%) of UK workers surveyed are looking to change jobs for reasons relating to well-being and happiness, followed by Spain (43%), France (42%), Germany (40%), Italy (39%) and Belgium (34%).

As Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, wrote for CNN:

“A decade of research in the business world proves that happiness raises nearly every business and educational outcome: raising sales by 37%, productivity by 31%, and accuracy on tasks by 19%, as well as a myriad of health and quality-of-life improvements.”

Clearly, a direct link can be made between happiness at work and job performance. The challenge businesses face is finding ways to better understand what motivates employees – and makes them happy. This is particularly necessary for small to mid-sized businesses, where employee turnover or an outright exodus can be the difference between success and failure.

Managers who spend time talking with employees are taking an important step. But it isn’t unusual for subordinates to button up when there’s a real need to speak up. Fear of backlash from colleagues and the boss often keeps people quiet. And since mind-reading is an art few have mastered, there needs to be a better way.

Ever considered corporate email? The clues may well be there, as this article by GFI Software™ explains.

Of course, you’ll need a key to unlock the mystery. That’s where email archiving comes into play. The right solution goes beyond improving efficiency, storage and compliance. In addition to providing these necessary services, it can also extract key bits of data from the email archive.

Much like Twitter tracks words and terms that are trending, an advanced email archiving solution can serve a similar purpose. It can help companies measure morale by identifying words frequently used in email – both for positive and negative sentiment. Additional reporting tools provide valuable insight into employee performance and productivity, and signal to managers when employees are searching for jobs elsewhere.

Think of the enormous value the right email archiving solution provides: By accessing untapped data in their email history, business leaders can better gauge the mood of their workforce. Armed with that knowledge, they can begin changing the culture of their company for the better.

Consider this message from Margaret Heffernan, an author, speaker and former CEO of five businesses:

“The biggest catastrophes that we’ve witnessed rarely come from information that is secret or hidden,” Heffernan said last year during a conference in Edinburgh, Scotland. “It comes from information that is freely available and out there, but that we are willfully blind to.”

Businesses need every edge possible to ensure they are fostering an environment where employees feel comfortable, creative, challenged, appreciated and valued. Data from corporate email can help – and with some effort, build a happier workforce.


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