What percentage of your team members have actually quit your organization, but remain on the payroll? The percentage is undoubtedly much higher than you think. We live in a world where employees are apathetic and the employee engagement level is much lower than most surveys indicate. The drain on productivity, sales and profitability is much larger than most organizations realize. Many times, when employees do decide to leave an organization, they are actually leaving ineffective leaders and toxic cultures.

The answer often lies in strengthening the skills of leaders. Gallup is an organization that provides analytics and advice to help businesses solve pressing problems. They have been tracking employee engagement in the United States for 15 years. They have found that since they began tracking engagement, the numbers have not changed much. Only 32% of employees in the U.S. are engaged. By engaged, Gallup means enthusiastic and committed to their work and workplace. Worldwide the number is actually 13%. In some ways, we have an epidemic!

Strengthening skills of leaders in organizations through leader development processes, coaching and recognizing and promoting strong leaders of people can be a catalyst in changing the tide. Most leaders are overburdened, fearful and they lack the leadership skills or support needed to be effective. They do not feel that they have the time to invest in their employees or themselves, and they often are not rewarded for employee development and engagement. They spend the bulk of their time on tactical issues and fighting the fire of the moment. They are often fearful and unwilling to share their struggles with superiors for fear of being viewed as ineffective and/or unable to get the job done. This does not result in innovation. It results in an environment of compliance and checking the box. Good, innovative ideas remain in the hearts and minds of leaders and the people who report to them.

The answer is development, which involves training, coaching and accountability. It involves motivating, inspiring, and recognizing your people. However, this does not matter if as leaders, we do not model the way. Employees often watch what leaders do rather than focus on what we say.

“As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do. “

– Andrew Carnegie

As a leader, what are your areas of opportunity for professional growth? Determine the areas and begin the process of changing. What do your people really need and want? Have you asked them? If the answer is no, why not? Begin the conversation today! It could prove to be invaluable to your employees, customers, organizations, shareholders and you. The investment in human beings is one that could conceivably pay dividends for generations to come.