Disengaged employees cost the U.S. economy $450 billion to $550 billion each year in lost productivity, according to Gallup’s comprehensive “State of the American Workplace” study.
Behind this astronomical figure are real people and real companies struggling with near epidemic levels of disengagement. Disengaged employees are more likely to show up late, miss work, waste time and drive away customers.
Disengaged employees are a plague in the workplace, but they’re also an opportunity. Each of them — yes, each and every one! — wants to do good work and wants to be engaged. No one starts a job intending to disengage!
Turning around disengagement is not only possible, it’s a process you can start today by helping managers change their attitudes and employee communication. The antidote to disengagement begins with managers who initiate genuine connection, positive communication and frequent gratitude with employees.
Hook your disengaged employees and see them as an engagement opportunity, not a liability! Read on for employee engagement tips you can start using right away.
Why Disengaged Employees Are Disengaged
First, it’s important to step back, get into your employees’ minds, and understand them better.
Why are they disengaged? Surprisingly, their disengagement is unlikely related to wages, perks or benefits. As long as they feel they’re being fairly compensated, money isn’t much of a motivator.
“Yes, being underpaid is demotivating and disengaging, but being overpaid doesn’t fuel superengagment,” writes HR consultant Broc Edwards.
Instead, the three main factors of disengagement are intangible. Disengaged employees…
- Don’t understand why their work matters
- Don’t trust management
- Don’t feel valued or recognized
What do these factors have in common? Poor manager communication. Disengaged employees withdraw from job responsibilities when management poorly communicates just about every aspect of their work. They’re unsure of the company’s purpose and how they fit into greater organizational goals. No wonder they put in so little effort!
3 Ways to Hook Disengaged Employees
Break the cycle of disengagement! Seize the opportunity to change the way management communicates with employees. Reverse disengagement trends by inviting managers to communicate with intention. Every day, managers should:
1. Show Employees Why the Company Needs Them
When a company’s mission is woven into everyday conversation and clearly communicated to employees, it drives people to commit and try harder.
Don’t assume that company goals are obvious. For instance: a fast food restaurant isn’t just in the business of serving satisfying food, it’s also in the business of creating an oasis where families with small children feel welcome.
Next, make sure every employee understands the important role their job plays in making the company better — and why their specific talents are instrumental to pulling it off.
2. Build Trust with Better Connections
Trust is built on connections, so spark a genuine, personal connection with employees. The Harvard Business Review’s “Proven Ways to Earn Your Employees’ Trust” has excellent suggestions for how managers can go about building employee connections, as well as case studies of how real managers turned around cultures of distrust.
Transparency, competence and truthfulness are vital to building trust, but simply changing the attitude of your communication can help, too. Always look for ways to connect on a personal level — a shared hometown or interest, for example — and focus on positive reinforcement:
- Encourage, don’t give orders
- Take responsibility and give credit, don’t blame
- Share information and ask for input.
3. Say ‘Thank You’
Sharing gratitude is one of the fastest ways to squash disengagement. Seek out ways to appreciate and honor employees for their unique contributions. Look for both quantitative and qualitative excellence.
Recognition isn’t just a nice thing to do. It encourages your employees! Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman of Zenger/Folkman, a leadership development consultancy, examined the link between management employee ratings and employee performance. Some managers are consistently “easy graders,” they found, while others are “hard graders.”
Zenger and Folkman wrote about the results of their study in the Harvard Business Review’s “If Your Boss Thinks You’re Awesome, You Will Become More Awesome.” As the headline suggests, the researchers found that managers who are “easy graders” have objectively stronger, more competent employees.
That’s the power of gratitude! It sets into motion an amazing feedback loop that both values and grows quality employees. Managers who willingly show appreciation on a regular basis build a strong, dedicated workforce.
Looking for more creative workplace gratitude inspiration? Read our previous posts on gratitude case studies, and for an in-depth guide to Transforming Your Workplace with Gratitude, click below to download our FREE eBook and start today!
About gThankYou, LLC
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