How to Solve the Employee Engagement Problem

December 11, 20158:11 am1262 views

When employees aren’t engaged, nobody’s happy. The problem of low employee engagement continues to challenge companies everywhere.

Gallup recently released the results of its latest employee poll, and 68.5% of workers still consider themselves “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” at work.

The problem is a complicated one. A number of factors can influence an individual’s engagement at work, including serious illness and problems at home. But the fact is that often times low employee commitment stems from dysfunctional relationships between employer and employee, manager and worker, leader and team.

Justin Bariso, founder of Insight, like to compare the employer/employee relationship to a marriage. In the beginning, both parties are enamored, and can do no wrong in each others’ eyes. But in time, the romance wears off. Lack of communication and respect can slowly erode the relationship. The next thing you know, both are just going through the motions.

Is there any way to rekindle that fire?

In marriage, one can’t underestimate the importance of two key factors. Bariso believe both of these can also be applied effectively to the workplace.

Effective communication

A situation can’t be improved unless the parties involved understand the problem. Open, honest, and respectful communication is essential in promoting understanding and getting everyone on the same page.

Focus on giving

In any partnership, there is a need for both parties to receive. But what we often forget is if we focus on giving, we give the other party motivation to give back.

So how does this look in real life? Recognising that we can’t cover every detail of every situation, here are a few suggestions that can be adapted to your needs.

See: Poor Employee Engagement Costs Companies Billions: Do You Agree?

1. Start the conversation

Begin the conversation by outlining the goal: You want to help the employee enjoy his/her work. Resist the urge to place blame, unless you take it upon yourself for not communicating earlier. Make sure to tell them you value them and don’t want to lose them (literally or through disengaged work), and that is why you are having this conversation in the first place.

Ask questions like:

  • What are your biggest challenges at work?
  • Are there any tasks that you feel should be eliminated? Why?
  • What other changes would you make if you could?
  • What can I do to make things better?
  • What aspects of your work do you really enjoy? (Maybe there’s a way to give them more of this.)

Most likely you can’t implement all their ideas, but if you put forth effort to apply some of what they tell you, you can start to get them back.

2. Look for the good

When you identify employee strengths, you can use these to benefit the company. Commend them for what they are doing right, and you send a powerful message: I appreciate you.

3. Make expectations clear

Workers often complain that they simply don’t know what’s expected of them. It is common after a failure to discover major misunderstandings between leader and team member.

Remember: Employees aren’t mind readers. Some individuals need more details than others. Make sure your direction isn’t vague.

Otherwise, if a finished product is less than desired, you will have nobody to blame but yourself.

4. Keep the dialogue going

Steps one through three aren’t ‘one and done’ solutions. To return to the marriage metaphor, a relationship will only thrive when each party continues to focus on open communication and seeking to benefit the other.

Of course, the employer/employee relationship is different, but the key is to see your employees as individuals. Focus on offering help, and continue to tell them what they are doing right. That makes it easier to communicate what they are doing wrong, and it makes it easier for them to accept.

Stop waiting for things to get better on their own. Start talking today, and help your people to fall in love with the company all over again.

See also: What will be the future of Employee Engagement?

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