Have you heard of employee engagement? Are your employees surfing the net more than necessary? Socializing or talking on the phone beyond the break time? Caught red-handed playing games or hunting for jobs at work? Are redundant meetings a norm in your team? Do you often catch your employees catching Zzz’s at work or lounging about drowsily? Don’t seem poised to put in extra effort for success? Laziness, dissidence and apathy run rampant at your organization? If you are fervently nodding yes to my questions, I have got bad news for you: your employees are “disengaged”.
And it’s not just your employees!
According to Gallup, only a sheer 33% of American workers are actually engaged by their jobs. 52% say they’re “just showing up,” while 17% openly declare themselves as “actively disengaged.” This means that while these latter 67% are present and even managing to look busy, they are indifferent to it at the same time. They don’t see their workplace as a space they enjoy. This could lead to a staggering $7 trillion loss in productivity each year.
This is because an engaged workforce actively contributes to your organizational goals; they are 37% less prone to absenteeism, 18% more productive, and generate 18% greater results. Engaged employees go to painstaking lengths to adopt the purpose, values and vision of the company they work for. They become awesome colleagues, innovative problem solvers, creative thinkers, and passionate contributors.
It may surprise you to know that bad management is often the root cause of low employee engagement.
You May Be Inadvertently Building An Army Of “The Working Dead“!
As a manager, you need to take a “its not you, it’s me” approach if you find low employee engagement and develop a strategy for building it back up. Here are some of the actions which might be putting a damper on your employee morale:
1) You Might Be Harboring Erratic Expectations
The mark of a good manager is that they convey concise, clear, realistic, and consistent expectations to their employees. But some employees we have talked to complain that their managers are tough one day, and lenient the next. They never know what to expect. Some managers unceremoniously change the scope of the project once an employee is done with it and ask them to start over. In no way does this come under the definition of “raising the bar”.
Here’s another scenario which might hit home: an employee turns in the same report month after month without eliciting any response from the manager. Then one month, the manager suddenly doesn’t like it, without even acknowledging the change in expectations.
Employees engagement often plummets down when they are not given predictable expectations and clear directives, since this way they cannot prioritize their efforts. Communication is the key here. You can’t expect your employees to come up to your expectations when they don’t even know what you are expecting.
Be it a change in the requirements of your organization, your goals, or expectations, your employees need to know. Let them know this is what changed and why they have to adjust. If you want your team to get on board on time, they need to be involved in the process of change.
2) You Don’t Listen To Employees
Engaged employees communicate their triumphs, ambitions, vision, woes, and concerns to supervisors and managers. But if you fail to make them believe that you are truly listening, they become disengaged. Sometimes, this problem stems from a manager who doesn’t acknowledge the value of one-on-one meetings.
You need to try to know your employees and encourage honest and open communication. Another reason you have failed to cultivate deeper relationships with your subordinates could be that you put them through processes or ordeals that leave them no option but to fend for themselves. Once your employees lose engagement and start looking for another job, it becomes hard to re-inspire them.
The quality of employees’ relationships with their immediate supervisor accounts for 70% of employee engagement. You need to come as more approachable to employees.
Get up from beyond your workstation to interact with them daily, ask them if they need anything, or if they are having some difficulty. Set aside time to have one-on-one weekly meetings. Encourage open communication among the team so that they feel like they can open up to you.
3) You Don’t Offer Recognition Or Reward For Employee Engagement
“My work doesn’t matter.”
“Why do I even bother?”
“No one cares.”
Here’s a bitter truth: Only 26% of employees feel valued by the organizations they work for, leaving 74% unhappy employees. Such a vast majority of disgruntled employees goes to show the sad state of management affairs.
This sort of malaise goes deeper than just discontented employee; we see good employees leaving for greener pastures, reduced productivity, employee disengagement, and so forth. All it takes are a few honest words of praise from a supervisor to make an employee feel accomplished.
Most employee show willingness to consequently increase productivity and emotionally invest in their work if they get reward and recognition for good performance.
Yet sadly, most managers falter in this regard, costing companies millions of dollars in lost productivity. How can you expect someone to put in their 200% when they think no one is looking!
You need to create a recognition program to offer the best benefits to your employees. For instance, you can start by sending an email to publicly thank employees for their top performance, going the extra mile, delivering a tough deadline, or their teamwork efforts. Treat employees to lunch for working overtime or organize an event to help them unwind. Do giveaways for tickets to an event or time off. Be creative and consistent with showing appreciation.
4) You Don’t Invest In Their Professional Development
Doing the same mundane tasks over and over again, week after week, without a clear path to a promotion, more responsibility or even some introduction to variety can dampen the spirit of even the most motivated employee.
Most employees have career goals that extend beyond this job. If they feel stuck in a career rut, you risk having high turnover and low employee morale. only 26% of employees believe there are adequate opportunities for professional development at their organizations.
If you want to keep your employees optimistic, A manager needs to comprehend each of their employees’ career goals and support them any way they can. Check in with them from time to time to make sure they are progressing toward their goals.
After the success of each milestone, make plans for the next step. This will give your employees something to look forward to and keep employee engagement up.
5) You Don’t Care about Employee Well-being
Employees of today want their employers to take their well-being into account and view them as humans as well. This can be something as simple as maintaining air quality at work, ensuring suitable lighting, or urging your employees to take their lunch breaks, go home if they are not feeling well, or utilize their paid vacations.
Encourage work-life balance and don’t ask your teammates to punch in extra hours unless absolutely necessary. Overburdened, overworked, and unsatisfied employees cannot be expected to stay engaged.