For awhile now, I've had this idea that an hour a day from each of us can solve three big challenges. The idea was crazy simple so I didn't share it, figuring I'd realize why it was crazy and be able to let it rest. But it keeps poking at me when I'm out running or sipping a coffee or mulling over the latest news. I'll share it here. You can tell me what I'm missing.
Let's start with the challenges.
Jobs. There aren't enough.
So, the latest and least uninspiring jobs report came out last week from the Department of Labor. The issue isn’t that these reports are a PR-spin maker’s ... dream. The issue is how long these tales have spun, accepted as meaningful statistics by the other half of the PR industry. That’s the mainstream media that breathlessly reads them as if they are truth with a capital T and sent from the Oracle herself to help us mere mortals understand our world. For the past 10 years it's helped those talking heads, and their audiences, avoid the task of deeper analysis like how come you only count as unemployed those who file for unemployment benefits ‘specially since unemployment benefits stopped for so many...just before Christmas. Nothing shows you care like cutting off benefits and, and, not even counting your misery, our misery as a meaningful statistic.
It’s a bi-partisan issue. When Bush was in office, his haters blamed him for the results and their spin. Now that Obama’s in office, his haters do the same using almost the same words. Weird, huh?
Obesity continues to be a problem for us. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, 35.7% of all Americans are obese. An adult is considered overweight if their BMI, Body Mass Index is 30 or higher. Iowa's right at the top. Here’s a link for computing your BMI. To show the nation’s most transparent and open White House how that works, I’ll share my BMI: 23.3.
Employee engagement remains a dismal 30%. That means 30% of our colleagues show up and give a hoot. The rest use duck calls to imitate the noises, flapping arms and typing really fast if a manager comes too close.
In summary, the unemployment rate is so high it’s no longer counted using math we learned in high school or we leave out the unemployed in calculating their numbers. Obesity continues to rise. Pretty soon they'll calculate the obesity rate in the same way they calculate the unemployment rate: they'll overlook the obese. Employee engagement is so much a challenge that I see a rising backlash led by serious denial among managers who say 'we're engaged' while looking around to see if their bosses are listening. They're not but that's sorta the problem.
The Idea That Won't Leave Me Alone
What if you offered employees one hour to exercise every day? According to the (cringe) Bureau of Labor Statistics, the same place that provide the jobs report, your employees work on average 8.8 hours per day.
Let’s drop that to 7.8 hours a day. That’s a decline in hourly production of 11.3%. See where I’m going? You might need 11.3% more employees to maintain the current output.
But hold on. A healthy workforce is one that needs fewer sick days. A healthy workforce is also one that is more productive...wait for it...more engaged with their work. Why? Well, because physically and emotionally they’re able to be more engaged. While I'm not a rocket scientist that sounds right; you’re not as engaged with your work if you’re sucking down sudafed and cold medicines and balancing them against high blood pressure meds or anti-depressants from obesity.
Employee engagement would rise. People would be healthier, more energized, more creative. They’d like working again. Think of the cost reductions from lower employee turnover and fewer employee ‘counseling’ sessions.
As your employee engagement rises, you can expect to see growth in these areas:
- revenues, their growth rate would grow. (That’s like saying a teenager’s going to grow even faster. Fun and scary.)
- cash flows
- innovations, new products and services
- customer conversions
- customer loyalty
- Good Stuff.
Now, you have a proven model that boosts employee engagement, lowers healthcare costs, raises profits and cash-flows. You might ask:
If these results come from 100 employees, what if we hired...oh, say, 10 more?
Before you ask that question in a meeting you might gather the reports showing the improved KPIs, Key Performance Indicators. Armed with the data you can ask the question while offering data to suggest the correct answer. A smart boss will listen. But, again, that's sorta the problem for many companies. I'm just giving you a headsup that it's not all cookies-and-ice-cream interval training and raw veggies.
Nanny-State and I'm from the federal government and I'm here to help.
Of course a federal mandate, an executive order..., is not the solution. Just imagine the website...or let's not.
DIY - DO IT YOUR SELF.
Figure it out. Walk away from your powerpoint slides. Talk to your employees. Find a way to talk to your employees. Just that step will engage your employees, even isn't looking or listening.
DIO - DO IT OURSELVES
This is an irrevent discussion of serious challenges and a possible solution. One hour of exercise to solve three problems.
It’s a bit cocky to say this, but I haven’t seen a better solution come from the mouths of babies or experts. Consider 5 Promise Zones. Those are as meaningful for creating jobs as a pinkie pledge or trickle down economics. Just look at the data. Besides, choosing zip codes for economic development programs seems to contradict...what, the program's stated ideal?
...a child’s zip code should never be what determines his or her opportunity.
We have to start offering our own ideas, ‘cause the 'experts' seem to be the ones that brought us here; well them and our abdication of responsibilities that afforded them the permission to take us here.
What's your idea?
If you want to know more ways to engage with your employees, my book RECOGNIZE THEM: 52 Ways to Recognize Your Employees in Ways They Value offers 52 ways to recognize your employees, easy exercises to reinforce those habits and skills and inspirational quotes to keep you going.