A recent study involving 1,224 employees from different parts of the world revealed that about 34.7% of employees are planning to search for a new job in 2019 as compared to 74% in 2018. Now before you make any conclusion or consider this a positive trend, consider that about 70% of them think of themselves quite disengaged from their jobs. This is really an indication of a significant complacency conundrum in the workplace.
Now, this data also showed that the employees usually go to work for the paycheck, which indicates that they’re only there and doing their job to avoid being fired; indeed, they’re highly unlikely to go above and beyond their primary duties.
This kind of complacency can be very expensive for any company. According to a recent report, disengaged employees tend to record 18 percent less productivity, 37 percent more absenteeism, and lower profitability by about 15 percent. If you take your time to consider this in terms of actual money, you’ll realize that the cost translates to 34 percent of that employee’s annual salary.
Certainly, across all sectors and industries, disengaged employees do affect the workplace, making an office toxic, causing great companies to lose their competitive edge or even fail. These are the kind of employees who are sleepwalking through the workday, putting in time but not passion nor energy.
Identifying Disengaged Employees
So, how do you motivate your employees to be passionate about their work, and be glad to go the extra mile for better results? First of all, you have to identify a disengaged employee. Sometimes, it’s not easy to spot such employees, but you can use the following general personality traits as a rule of thumb:
- They complain a lot
- They lack enthusiasm
- They gossip
- They act like they know everything or like they are too good for anything you have to say
- They’re irresponsible
- They don’t ask questions
- They make too many excuses
- They don’t help others
- They often lie
- They don’t take initiative
- They’re overly independent
- They’re easily distracted
- They don’t invest in themselves to grow within the company
Luckily, there are ways to transform disengaged employees to actively engaged employees, regardless of how many years they’ve been working for you. Keep reading to find out how.
How to Engage Employees
Give them clear expectations, and connect your company culture’s dots
The first thing you want to do is ensure your employees have a clear job direction about what their jobs involve. Studies show that only 40 percent of employees truly and explicitly understand what is expected of them by their employers. An employee who believes their job expectations align with their work are 2 ½ times more likely than other employees to be engaged.
So, offer frequent and regular feedback to your employees at an individual level and at a team level to assist them in achieving their goals.
The next thing you should do is ensure all your employees (and the potential new hires) understand where the company is headed, and are clear on the goals and values of the company. This will ensure everyone feels aligned in one, shared direction.
Share information as frequently and freely as you can about progress within your company and encourage honesty and openness.
Look at their individual strengths and tap into them
Generally, workers want to do their best, but only 40% feel they’re in a position to make it happen. As a manager, you should communicate with your employees and work together with them to identify their strengths. Now if one or more would be better suited for other roles, provide opportunities for lateral moves. When a company focuses on its employee’s strengths, employee engagement increases, and so does retention.
Appreciate a job well done
Managers often fail to recognize employees for their good work- perhaps due to many deadlines they have to meet or the ever-soaring numbers to hit; they thus only provide feedback when there is a problem. One of the easiest ways to build a positive culture is to inform your employees how their respective contributions assist the company in accomplishing its goals. According to research, about 40% of employees confirm that they would put a lot more energy into their work if you recognized them more often.
(Use an HRIS that allows people to give feedback on their peers and staff)
Employ the ‘stay interview’ strategy where you talk less and inquire more
Usually, employers find out how disengaged an employee was or is during their exit interview, instead of discovering it during their work- while there is still the chance to do something about it.
To ensure this doesn’t happen, try conducting a “stay interview” of some sort, in which if you ask all the right questions, you can have an open conversation with your employee about their commitment to the company, and most importantly, their satisfaction. Just to give you an example, you can ask the following:
- How content are you with the quality and amount of feedback you’re getting concerning your performance?
- What skills or talents would you like us to consider and utilize more in your job?
- What are some of the items in your wish list for a higher/better role, beyond the job you’re doing at the moment?
- What do you like about your job? What makes you excited about coming to work? And what is it about the work that makes you want to stay at home?
- Do you consider or feel like your work is meaningful or important? If so,why (and vice versa).
Encourage engagement at the grassroots
This is one of the most important factors here. Engagement can be contagious, and even though you cannot be able to force it, you can inspire it.
Once you figure out what really matters to employees and your company as a whole, individual employees will actually help the whole idea and the feeling of engagement to spread. For instance, you could empower your employees, especially those ones that seem most engaged, to share their stories, exchange and disseminate ideas and best practices across the organization. In case you’re wondering, this does not have to be in person; employees usually have many ways to connect, thanks to the huge social media popularity. You can actually build different teams and have them create motivating videos to share with each other to make engagement contagious.
Encourage them to take risks
If there were a 45% chance that a project one of your employees could take on would flop and a 55% chance it would succeed, the choice to pursue the project would be mainly based on how they perceive the risk of failing. If your company has a culture where failure is met with a lot of criticism, such 45/55 decisions that could generally affect your company certainly won’t be enacted.
So, encourage risk-taking in your company to build more confidence and aggressiveness and see their work yield more output within an innovative culture.
Offer them freedom and autonomy
If your employees feel as though they’ve been doing their work in a certain way, dress in a certain way in the office and can’t generally be themselves, they aren’t going to be very happy and as productive as they otherwise would.
So what do you do?
Have honest conversations about the kind of work they want to do, encourage them to take an idea or goal, and run with it, while allowing them to revolve their job around their desired lifestyle. This will create momentum in the office and encourage them to work harder on what they love most.
Try to offer practical guidance to keep them on track
Autonomy without a sense of guidance would easily leave people spending a lot of time trying to understand what they should actually be doing.
In this case, try to check in and challenge them to ask themselves questions such as:
- Why am I doing this particular thing?
- What else can I (or should I) be working on?
- Is this work the best use of my time at the moment and is there a chance I can do it more efficiently?
Not only will this accelerate their productivity, but learning as well.
It is also important you always keep your finger on the pulse of each employee to identify times when they require perking up. Whether they’re dealing with Monday blues or mental fatigue during the high season, something as simple as a strategically scheduled lunch can go a long way to boosting them mentally to make even the roughest days more anticipated.
Let your team rest and occasionally relax to recharge and renew, and plan their favorite group activities to refresh camaraderie.
On the onset, you might think it challenging to fully engage disengaged employees or keep employees engaged for a long period of time. However, it is very possible and as you have seen, there are fairly simple ways to make that happen which in summary include the following:
- Giving them clear expectations, and connecting your company culture’s dots
- Looking at their individual strengths and tapping into them
- Appreciating a job well done
- Employing the ‘stay interview’ strategy where you talk less and inquire more
- Encouraging engagement at the grassroots
- Encouraging them to take risks
- Offering them freedom and autonomy
- Trying to offer practical guidance to keep them on track
- Stoking morale
If there is a lot of goodwill and effort from you, the manager, your employees will have fun at what they do and be as productive as they can.
These tips will definitely help your employees become and stay engaged, and give their best.