Increasingly we are hearing the phrase “employee engagement” in our dialogues with clients, but often the term lacks a clear definition. If an organisation is looking to improve employee engagement is that the same as increasing employee happiness? Or is it more like employee satisfaction? In reality employee engagement goes much deeper than simply being satisfied with a job, or happy in a workplace.
Forbes contributor Kevin Kruse considers employee engagement as; the emotional commitment an employee has to the organisation and its goals. While Gallup defines engaged employees as “those who are involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their work, and who contribute to their organisation in a positive manner”.
Understandably we see employers focus on the already engaged members of their team – these are star performers and keeping them as such is a top priority. However let’s consider those who are not engaged, or worse, are actively disengaged? An employee who turns up, works without passion, but is satisfied just doing their day-to-day is volatile and can be easily swayed by the organisations actions or by the actions of their peers.
While they teeter between engagement and active disengagement, non-engaged employees usually don’t pose a toxic threat within their work environment. The real danger lies with those who are actively disengaged – unhappy at work and spreading their unhappiness among colleagues. Gallup estimates that in the U.S. active disengagement costs $450 billion to $550 billion per year. While in the United Kingdom actively disengaged employees cost the country between £52 billion and £70 billion per year.
With disengaged employees out numbering engaged employees 2-to-1, it’s important to know the signs and intervene early.
Six Warning Signs
1. Slipping Standards – If deadlines are being missed and punctuality isn’t what it previously was, then it’s likely you’re dealing someone who has checked-out. Small changes in day-to-day commitment are a first indicator.
2. Excessive Complaining – Every employee has the right to complain and having an opinion is an important aspect of engagement. But beware of team members who complain constantly and about trivial matters.
3. Making Excuses – If an employee is frequently making excuses for their actions and shunning responsibility they probably don’t have the organisations goals at heart.
4. Lacking Enthusiasm – When a new project doesn’t ignite the enthusiasm you expect in an employee it will often be down to lack of engagement.
5. Independent and unhelpful – Disengaged employees don’t want to help others, and will develop a “that’s not my job” attitude trying to work independently rather than as part of a team.
6. Not Asking Questions – An employee who isn’t asking questions and striving for personal growth within the company is not looking at the organisation as a long-term employer.
63% of employees fall between engagement and active disengagement, so what steps can you take to re-engage and inspire employees who have switched to auto pilot? The most important thing is having open and honest communication with your team. If an employee is dissatisfied and losing interest it’s important to talk honestly about how they feel and identify the cause. It is important that employees are happy speaking to management about their concerns rather than turning to disengaged peers.
Recognising and rewarding employee contribution is one of the most effective ways to re-engage employees. Feeling appreciated is a basic human need that increases satisfaction and motivation. Implementing a recognition program will have a real impact as recognition promotes positivity, and positivity spreads.
It might seem obvious but making it easy for employees to do their jobs should be a top priority. We’ve all been in a position where we had to do something for work but haven’t had the most suitable tool to do it – it’s frustrating for employees. Whether it’s software, hardware or making sure basic ergonomics are correct, employees should be provided with the necessary tools to work at their best.
One final and very important step is to encourage your team to learn and develop. If you want your employees to have an interest and emotional commitment to your organisation, it needs to work both ways. If an employee wants to take a course to improve their skill set, support that decision. Similarly, if you have a sports or arts enthusiast on your hands then encourage that interest.
Speak to our team today to find out how Wrkit can help build a recognition rich culture in your organisation – firstname.lastname@example.org
Author: Peter Jenkinson, Business Development Director