Engagement Lessons: What Not to Do

In a recent article, Workforce Management recently tied the scandal at French bank Societe Generale to low employee engagement. Author Jessica Marquez observes that while only one low-level trader engaged in illicit trades, losing the bank billions, many back-office employees knew of the suspicious activity but “didn’t go beyond what was expected of them as laid out in their job descriptions.”

A €4.9 billion fraud could have been stopped, or at least mitigated, but many coworkers preferred to say, “It’s not my job.” This does indeed speak to the devastating ripple effects that disengagement can have in an organization – and ultimately in an economy. Since Societe Generale announced the fraud in late January, the effects of it continue to be felt in that banking institution, in France, and in the European economy. We may never know the full extent of the problems wrought by this one trader – and his many unwitting cohorts who assisted him through their decision to not act.

While the article highlights disengagement levels in France, it is certainly not a challenge limited to one country. Per Gallup studies, France and China have only 12% of employees actively engaged in their work; Germany has 13%; the UK has 16%; Japan has a very disheartening 9% engagement level. The US has 29% of employees actively engaged, but this is certainly nothing to brag about when the consequences of disengagement are so clear.

Are you one of the disengaged? What would you do if faced with a situation like that at Societe Generale? Or are on e of the engaged? What encourages you to go beyond your job description to look out for the best interests of your colleagues and your company?

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