During recent elections a lot was said about the economy and how we need to Make America Great Again. President-elect Donald Trump became one of the few non-politicians in recent history elected to the highest office in the land, campaigning heavily on that platform.
This is understandable considering how many hardworking people have been struggling in recent years. People who were once considered “middle class” have now slipped into the lower income category and below, as costs rose and incomes remained stagnant.
Healthcare alone is causing families to have to struggle just to make ends meet. Regardless of what or who you feel has caused this, it must change, now!
What must also change, if America is to be great again, is what I refer to in the title of this post. The Silent killer of the American economy.
I’m referring to the one area that has been largely overlooked by the experts touting their solutions to our economic challenges. I’m referring to the underlying cause of many of our economic problems; the silent killer of the American economy.
While rhetoric is bandied about blaming everyone and everything from illegal immigrants and outsourcing, to overpaid and pampered executives, as the “villains” in our economic mess, there is an even bigger underlying cause.
Yes, illegal immigration, along with people gaming the welfare system, companies “offshoring” to beat taxes and reduce wages, and exorbitant executive compensation and greed are major contributors to this problem, however, there is still one huge “elephant-in-the-room” that, according to experts, is costing the American economy more than half a trillion dollars a year.
The area that I’m referring to, one that is costing the American economy more than $550 Billion annually, according to a 2013 Gallup poll, is employee disengagement.
Employee disengagement, currently estimated at 70%, are those people who are unhappy at work and shirking their responsibilities. This number, up from just 35% in 2012 is putting a disastrous drain on the American economy.
We cannot afford for this to continue. We cannot expect to remain competitive in a global economy with these pathetic numbers. If this does not change we can expect to lose the position of world leadership we once enjoyed, to countries with higher levels of employee engagement and productivity.
Why are so many American workers disengaged, unhappy, and unproductive at work?
While there are no simple answers, there are some things we can do immediately to remedy this situation.
For starters there needs to be better communication, understanding, and agreement between labor management. There needs to be mutual cooperation whereby workers agree to perform their duties to the best of their ability while management agrees to treat workers fairly. This is nothing more than good business.
One of the big disconnects, in my opinion, is the lack of understanding on the part of employees in many organizations as to how their job contributes to the overall success of the business and, for that matter, how it relates to the rest of their own life. If someone does not know why they’re working where they are, high levels of engagement are almost impossible.
People need to understand why their doing what their doing and how it is contributing to their well being. They need to understand themselves and what drives them.
This is something that can be taught.
When people are taught to live in alignment with their own values and aspirations, and understand why they’re working in the position they’re in, and how it relates to their overall life, they will be happier and more productive.
How much more?
According to the Happiness Advantage program at Harvard, people in a positive state of mind, as opposed to negative or neutral, are 31% more effective and, if they are in sales, they are 37% percent.
Interestingly enough, doctors who are in a positive state are 19% more accurate in making the correct diagnosis.
People can be taught how to feel better and be in positive emotional states more of the time and can learn ways to minimize the opposite.
Personal development programs, like our Happy at Work seminars and workshops and those from Sean Anchor, Gretchen Rubin, and others, teach people how to master both their internal and external communications. They learn ways to manage their emotional states, how to live from a personal vision that is aligned with the company’s mission, set goals and develop action plans for their achievement. The overall result of this are happier, more productive people and a smoother running organization.