A recent survey conducted by Gallup on employee engagement across the country shows that even as Americans' wellbeing has dropped to a 12-year low in the past month amid the coronavirus outbreak, the engagement of the working population has hit a new high. Despite new working conditions such as work from home or sparse office layouts designed to promote social distancing and slow the spread of the virus, companies are making it work. This begs the question: how is your employee engagement holding up? And if you're feeling like your business may be experiencing a rise in employee disengagement, what can you implement to turn this around?
Some things we do know about employee engagement:
• To be successful, it must be two way.
• Organizations must consistently work hard to engage their employees.
• Employee engagement (or lack of) directly affects performance.
• Levels of employee engagement vary widely across organizations.
• Employee engagement is affected by company culture.
Engagement comes in a variety of forms and typically affects both the attitude and behavior of the workforce. Companies with engaged employees generally demonstrate authentic, transparent values with high levels of trust between employer and employees. Their culture is always positive and motivates employees to succeed. What’s more, their ability to attract, hire and retain talent becomes almost a given.
Disengaged employees are often disruptive, disinterested and fail to meet performance objectives. How can struggling companies transform their demoralized employees into an engaged, productive workforce?
Engage with your employees by taking their following steps:
1. Identify Your Level of Engagement
The lowest level of engaged employees is those who are ‘present’ only in a literal sense. Unhappy employees arrive at the office every day and go through the motions but they are probably costing an organization money. De-motivated and disengaged, the extent of their engagement is focused on their search for another job. High levels of absence, low productivity and failure to meet performance objectives (if any have been set) are typical behavioral symptoms of these employees.
2. Allow Your Employees a Voice
The first step to engaging your employees is to assess exactly what is wrong. Face the truth by giving your workforce a voice. Carry out an employee survey, requesting their input on what they like (or don’t like) about their job and what would make things better. Employees who feel their employer is taking an interest in their opinions respond positively. Listen to what they say but most importantly, act on the results of your survey.
3. Challenge Your People
Find out why your employees accepted the original offer of a job within your organization. Challenge them on their expectations versus the current reality and what part they may have played in creating that reality. New employees are often full of enthusiasm and committed to their role but somewhere along the line something gets lost in a stifling company culture. Why has their negative attitude developed? Extend that challenge to changing their attitude to achieve more, with the support and backing of company leadership. Offer incentives for employees who embrace this challenge – it will inevitably result in increased levels of engagement and impact co-workers positively too.
4. Acknowledged Contributions
Express gratitude. Thank your employees for their contributions big or small, whether through training courses, monetary rewards, an “Employee of the Month” award or a simple e-mail sent to all employees acknowledging an individual performance. You’ll find they are prepared to go that extra mile for you when it matters (and even when it doesn’t).
5. Provide Opportunities For Career Development
A formal mentoring program within your organization helps your employees to achieve their professional aims and demonstrates your commitment to growth across the board. To attract upcoming millennials (75% of the global workforce by 2025) this should form the basis of all employee retention strategies.
6. Develop Mutual Trust
Once lost, trust can be difficult to recover so it must begin now. Understanding why engagement levels have plummeted helps to rebuild trust by inviting discussions about how to improve morale. Give your people autonomy, demonstrate your trust in new challenges as you seek to re-establish the engagement you once had.
As problems are identified and challenges met, trust will naturally build and engagement levels will increase. Rather than being only physically ‘present’, your employees will become fully engaged, in a high performance culture with a corresponding fall in absenteeism and rise in retention levels.