One of the most overlooked obstacles to a business’ success is the engagement of its workforce. Engaged employees are what we like to call “unlocked” – they are more likely to go the extra mile for the business, be more loyal, as well as breed a more positive workplace environment for the whole organisation. In short, engaged employees mean all the cogs can turn smoothly.
A recent study of British employees showed that only 36% of the workforce in the UK is highly engaged. This means that the remaining 64% – which could very easily be sitting in your business – remain uninterested in doing their job to their full potential and are impeding the company’s growth and success. A disengaged workforce has the ability to undermine the best of business plans and strategies.
We have seen it happen before. Here are 4 actions you can take to interact with your team and cure their disengagement.
1. Showcase a high level of leadership
At the heart of an effective workforce is an individual who showcases the highest levels of leadership, regardless of the size of the team. The foundation of a strong leader is the ability to communicate effectively and consistently. Set the business direction and sell it in to your workforce.
If your employees do not know which direction the business is heading, they will not be able to alter their behaviours accordingly. Furthermore, ensure that there is reciprocity in the communication – foster the culture that your employees are able to come to you with ideas. Giving your employees some ownership in the business’ direction and processes is a pivotal step in ensuring workforce engagement.
The best way to do that is to ensure that you are managing your team effectively. You can download some further tips plus an easy (and free) system for managing a small team’s tasks here. Additionally, ensure that you help your employees understand the purpose and meaning of their work.
Each individual needs to know how their responsibilities are impacting the greater business. As a leader, it is important for you to facilitate a working environment of transparency whereby people can question what they are doing and how it adds value to the organisation.
2. Recognise Achievement and be a Problem-Solver
Employees are more likely to work harder for you if they know that they will be recognised for the effort they put in. As it is much more common and easier for employers to criticise their workforce, the size and manner of recognition for a job well-done is not as important as the existence of it.
If employees know that you care and are grateful of their work, they are more likely to be more productive and engaged in their responsibilities. The key word here is “Value”. If you can make people feel valuable, they will reciprocate by giving it back into the business.
Furthermore, criticism is sometimes necessary for a business’ workforce, however when employees underperform, try to understand the root cause of the situation as well. Your employees will react more positively if you are able to help them work through their issues rather than just be a disciplinarian. As I have recently written, stop giving feedback and instead give feedforward.
3. Build Relationships
People react positively in a workplace when they are in an environment which is conducive to relationship-building. Not only should you foster relationships between employees, but it is also pivotal for the business owner/manager to do so as well.
Building camaraderie in the workplace will allow you to create a unified front in tackling your business’ obstacles. As an employer, you need to realise that each of your employees is unique in their work motivations and styles. Therefore, you should invest time in your employees by getting to know them and, in a top-line sense, understand what makes them tick.
4. Be Future-Focused
One of the reasons why employees re disengaged in their roles is that they are not able to see a future with the business, or do not have confidence in the business’ ability to grow with their personal objectives. Therefore, not only should you foster a positive belief in the business’ direction in the future, but you should also ensure that employees are assured that their personal development is possible with the company. If employees are able to see a future with the company and know that they will be able to grow with it, they will have no reason to disengage.
However, you also need to ensure that you make your employees understand the link between what they are doing today to what the business is aiming to achieve in the future. Finally, make sure you do not take employee engagement for granted. Just because you believe that your business has all of the above, you will still need to ensure that you monitor your employees’ satisfaction and beliefs toward the company.
Many organisations do so through satisfaction surveys. This is all well and good, however when conducting surveys, ensure that you act on what has come out of them, and that you are not treating them as an easy KPI to tick from the list. It is the actions you undertake between the surveys that are what matters, rather than actually conducting them.
It is easy enough for some businesses to comment on employee disengagement as a generational trait or an individual’s own issue, and in some circumstances this might be the reason. However, the organisation is the entity responsible for providing a work culture which gives its employees every opportunity to engage in the business – and you are the organisation.