The Employee Spectrum: From Value Builders to Value Drainers

Beth Dean 03.11.24
Graphic - Blog 2024-03-12 Employee Builders and Drainers

In today’s evolving work environment, employee engagement and productivity have become critical priorities for businesses. McKinsey’s research sheds light on this topic by identifying six distinct employee personas, each exhibiting varying levels of satisfaction, engagement, and performance. But the most striking revelation? Over half the workforce falls into two stark categories: building value or destroying it. Let’s look deeper into these employee builders and drainers.

The Builders:

  • Stars (4%): The high performers, passionate and productive, driving innovation and results.
  • Pros (38%): Reliable, committed, and engaged, consistently meeting expectations and contributing positively.

The Drainers:

  • Quitters (10%): Mentally checked out, already on their way out the door, and often demotivating colleagues.
  • Disruptors (11%): Actively disengaged, spreading negativity and hindering others’ work. They can be either “quiet quitting” or loudly quitting.
  • Mildly Disengaged (32%): Going through the motions, meeting minimum requirements but lacking enthusiasm and initiative.
  • Double Dippers (5%): This is a small but interesting percentage of the workforce, comprising employees who are concurrently working two full-time jobs. 

The research paints a worrying picture: a near-50/50 split between engaged contributors and those quietly (or even loudly) eroding value. This begs the question: how can companies identify and empower their Builders while re-engaging or transitioning the Drainers?

Building a Stronger Workforce:

  • Mandatory office returns are not necessarily the answer. According to the study, flexibility and autonomy are key motivators for today’s employees.
  • Focus on intrinsic motivators. Purpose, growth opportunities, and positive work culture can reignite engagement.
  • Identify and address the underlying reasons for disengagement. Are employees burnt out, lacking skills, or facing personal challenges? Are they paid competitively?
  • Leverage data and analytics. Track performance and engagement metrics to identify at-risk employees and tailor interventions.
  • Invest in talent development. Equip your employees with the necessary skills and knowledge for success in their roles.

McKinsey’s research is a wake-up call for businesses to shift their focus from one-size-fits-all solutions to understanding each employee’s unique needs and motivations. By fostering a culture of engagement, development, and well-being, companies can empower their Builders and minimize the impact of Drainers, ultimately unlocking the full potential of their workforce.

Remember, the power to build or drain value lies not just within individuals, but also within the organizational systems and leadership practices that shape their experiences. By investing in a human-centered approach to work, organizations can cultivate a thriving employee ecosystem where everyone contributes to shared success.

Source: “Some Employees are Destroying Value. Others are Building It. Do You Know the Difference?” by McKinsey & Company

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