When it comes to supporting and retaining employees, many employers think of financial benefits, collaborative offices or more paid time off. But a good employee engagement strategy is built to address the reasons why employees become disengaged and what they truly want at work. When you have employees who are emotionally connected and committed to your organization, performance improves. You’ll see higher profits, customer ratings, less theft and increased safety.
Unfortunately, one of the biggest problems companies face is lack of employee engagement. Less than one-third of employees are engaged, half aren’t engaged, and more than 17 percent are actively disengaged. These attitudes hurt your company. Gallup estimates the cost of lost productivity at $450 to $550 billion a year in the United States just from the actively disengaged employees.
Reasons for Disengagement
Think about a job where you were frustrated, not committed to your work, had a hard time finding motivation or found reasons to come in late or take long lunches. Most of us have worked at a place where we just weren’t invested in the work. Now think about the issues. Was leadership absent, too involved with arbitrary rules or making decisions that had no connection to the reality of employees? Did you know how you were doing and people noticed your contributions? Did you go home every night drained and feeling the need to decompress? Without an employee engagement strategy, these problems aren’t limited to a couple bad apples and will become a company-wide issue.
At the 2015 Association for Talent Development conference, Britt Andreatta, director of L&D at lynda.com and senior learning consultant at LinkedIn, gave the top five causes for employee disengagement.
- Feeling invisible because efforts are not measured or recognized.
- The job or workplace is not as expected.
- Little to no feedback or coaching and no access to professional development.
- Overworked and stressed out.
- Lack of trust or confidence in the senior leaders.
Sound familiar? Now take a look at the employees in your organization with whom you’re frustrated. What support can you give to make your organization a highly engaged one? What employee engagement strategy is needed to boost their involvement?
What Employees Want
Many employers think salary rules the day, but, while it is important, money is rarely what will keep an unhappy employee at your company. So what can you do to engage interest and reignite commitment? A study done by Harvard Business Review and The Energy Project shows employees become far more engaged and productive when four core needs are met: “physical, through opportunities to regularly renew and recharge at work; emotional, by feeling valued and appreciated for their contributions; mental, when they have the opportunity to focus in an absorbed way on their most important tasks and define when and where they get their work done; and spiritual, by doing more of what they do best and enjoy most, and by feeling connected to a higher purpose at work…. When employees have one need met, compared with none, all of their performance variables improve. The more needs met, the more positive the impact.”
In other words, employees need things like trust with feedback, responsibility with flexibility. They want to be given the opportunity and autonomy to innovate and excel, and then be recognized for good work or given feedback when things are going off-track. Employees also want to be let in on the company’s goals and purpose so they understand what they are working toward. This doesn’t mean you must remove all structure or criticism. Rather you should let them know what their framework is and what responsibilities they have, but then give your employees the freedom to meet or exceed your expectations.
What to Do
Make an employee engagement strategy a priority. Lack of engagement and employees who are actively disengaged are hurting your business. You can dismiss them as troublemakers and continue to deal with high turnover and lower productivity. Or you can begin to address the root issues that drive engagement. Give your employees realistic duties, let them work within a flexible framework, give feedback, notice them and connect the leaders to the employees. The immediate positive impact will surprise you.