Employees are becoming more and more disengaged, but it doesn’t have to be that way. As part of reimagining the workplace, employers must take employee engagement into account if they want to remain competitive.
Employees are Disengaged
A Gallup survey found that barely one third of employees are “fully engaged” in their work while 53% are not engaged and 13% are actively disengaged. They define engagement as the “involvement and enthusiasm of employees in their work and workplace.” It represents how your employees are feeling about their jobs.
53% are not engaged and 13% are actively disengaged.Gallup Survey
One type of disengagement recently popularized in the media is quiet quitting. Quiet quitting is when an employee does only the bare minimum at work while they focus their energy on outside projects and interests or is looking for another job.
As a leader, you may be missing out on the full potential of your team and your organization. Disengagement isn’t just a standard management issue — it hurts the bottom line. According to Decisionwise, companies with disengaged employees earn 32.7% less than companies with highly engaged employees.
1. Measurement is the first step in improving engagement.
So, how do you know if your employees are disengaged? In my experience, companies have found well-designed employee surveys to be the best route. New Phase Partners provides our clients an easy-to-administer and proven engagement survey tool. This allows them to establish a baseline for the company and a straightforward way to monitor improvement in engagement scores over time.
From there, leaders can begin to make adjustments that will more actively engage their teams over time. There are no quick fixes, and creating change requires a solid commitment from the leadership team. This is when the real work (and fun!) begins.
Here are 8 more ways you can improve engagement in your team:
2. Make Employees Feel Valued
Show your employees that you value them as human beings, as well as valuing their work. This sounds like basic advice but it’s important. Fewer than one in four US employees feel strongly that their organization cares about their well being, according to a recent Gallup study. If your employees don’t feel like you care about them, it’s hard for them to care about your company.
So how do you do this? Well, there are many ways, including paying a competitive wage, providing flexible and hybrid work options, creating an open and transparent environment, involving your employees in the decision-making process, and allowing them to help lead change efforts in their own departments.
3. Recognize Your Employees
Recognizing employees has also been shown to be fundamental for employee engagement. In fact, managers who are good at recognizing employees have 40% higher employee engagement rates.
The best way to recognize your employees depends on the employee. For some, calling attention to their achievement in a meeting is confidence boosting. For others, this is embarrassing and they would prefer a quiet, personal expression of appreciation (think gift card with a personal note). A one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work. You need to take the time to get to know the human being.
Regardless of how and when you recognize an employee, be specific. It takes more than just saying, “good job.” Take the time to mention the specific action and how it affected you, the team, or your customers. Also, make the recognition in a timely manner. The closer to the action or event, the better.
4. Reduce Bureaucracy and Employee Pain Points
How do your employees feel about your workplace? What’s going well? What are their specific frustrations?
Create an environment where people feel like they can have that conversation, even if you need to bring in a facilitator. Be open to their ideas and solutions and pay attention to their pain points. Identify specific ways you can work together to make things better, and then actually do it! Make reducing unnecessary bureaucracy, paperwork, and annoying tasks a top priority.
5. Create Meaningful Connections
Get to know your employees as human beings. Do they have a significant other? Do they have kids? Are they a caregiver for family members? What personal hardships are they facing? Have meaningful discussions and work to build authentic connections among your team.
The old paradigm of work taught us that we need to leave our personal lives at the door when we come to work. To create engaged employees, it’s important to recognize them as whole human beings with a life and challenges outside work.
Employees will go through different seasons of their life while working for you. There may be times they are struggling with a sick family member, childcare issues, or caring for an elderly parent. If there are ways for you to provide additional compassion and flexibility during challenging times, employees will feel a greater connection to the organization.
Find ways to create a safe, trusting workplace environment with opportunities for people to work together, and over time build friendships. Employees with a “best friend” at work are more likely to be engaged, get more done in less time, innovate and share ideas, and have fun at work. As you can imagine, these results mean the employee is also less likely to leave the organization. Creating a culture of friendship starts at the top and is related to the behavior demonstrated by leaders.
6. Have a Greater Purpose
Employees want to feel like they’re part of something greater than themselves. More and more companies are being called on to have a purpose greater than just earning a profit. Ensure your company has a clear and compelling mission that, if fulfilled, helps make the world a better place, and live it. The mission needs to run through everything your company does.
Help employees understand the connection between their work and the organization’s overall mission.
7. Help Employees Identify and Use Their Own Strengths:
Every person in your company has unique strengths. Helping them identify and apply those strengths not only makes work more meaningful to the employee, it also helps them be more engaged. A Gallup study found that people who use their strengths every day are six times more likely to be engaged on the job! That’s huge.
It also helps your employee make a greater contribution to the organization and the overall mission, which makes the company stronger. If you need a partner for this, we provide Strengths-finder assessments, consultations, coaching, and training.
8. Focus on Well Being
Create a culture that values well being. Make it okay to rest, take vacations, and unplug on nights and weekends.
One leader that I interviewed on my podcast recently (coming soon!) is Susan Hingle, MD. She puts this message at the bottom of every email:
“I apologize if this e-mail comes after hours. There is no need or expectation to respond on evenings or weekends, unless it makes your life easier.”Susan Hingle, MD
I love this so much! Sometimes Dr. Hingle responds to email after hours because that works with her schedule. However, she gives permission to the recipient to wait until the next workday to respond.
While this isn’t the norm at many organizations. It should be.
I once worked as an executive for a company that used email and slack at all hours of the day, every day, including weekends and holidays. There was often more email communication at 10:00 p.m. than during the day, due to all of the meetings we participated in. If we chose to “unplug” for a weekend or a vacation, we were often met with angry responses and an overflowing inbox upon our return.
The result was a high level of stress and burnout among the entire staff. I ended up leaving that job. That experience, as well as my time in other challenging corporate roles are part of why I’m so passionate about workplace wellbeing and creating a better way. (You can read more about my decision in this Medium article from 2018, “Am I crazy for wanting to leave my high-paying corporate job?”)
9. Provide Opportunities for Growth and Development
Provide opportunities for your employees to grow and develop. That includes every employee. Let’s call for an end to “dead-end jobs” and instead focus on creating “get ahead jobs”. This concept comes from the must-read book, Humanocracy. It means that every employee should have the opportunity to further develop themselves, their skills, and their position within the organization.
Growth and development opportunities should start with a conversation with the employee, understanding their strengths, interests, and long-term goals. Where does the employee see himself/herself/themself in five years? Is it possible for that to happen within your company? Are there opportunities you can help them imagine and train for? Make time for these critical conversations and schedule regular (weekly if possible) follow up.
If you don’t think you have time for that, remember how long it takes to recruit, interview, hire, and train a new employee. Making investments in time and training budgets is well worth the investment over the long run and will result in happier, more engaged employees.
A highly committed and engaged workforce will result in more revenue and success for your company, while also creating a better workplace for everyone. Every industry and every employer has the opportunity to create the workplace of the future. Do you have the leadership and commitment to seize the opportunity for your company?
If you’re looking for a partner to help you with this process, contact New Phase Partners today for a no-cost initial consultation.