Boost Employee Engagement in Three Steps


By Annabelle Smyth

What is the true cost of a disengaged employee?

According to a recent Gallup poll, employees who are not engaged in the workplace cost the U.S. economy $450 billion to $550 billion per year.

And this shocking number doesn’t illustrate the impact of disengaged employees on company culture, the high turnover of their productive colleagues and the harm they cause to brands. The poll also revealed that approximately 70 percent of employees in the U.S. are not engaged – that’s nearly 3 out of every 4 employees!

So, what’s the solution to this costly dilemma?

Check out the three steps below to get started on the path to increasing employee engagement and reaping the benefits of a dedicated workforce.

1. The underutilized one-on-one conversation

Sometimes, the direct approach is the most effective.

The key is to have one-on-one conversations with your employees that actually matter. If your employees walk away from these meetings feeling as if they aren’t being heard or valued, then you are doing something wrong

There are several different approaches to having a successful one-one-one, but all of them involve creating a space where individuals feel comfortable enough to discuss their concerns, ideas and plans with you. A few things you may want to keep in mind for fruitful one-one-one meetings include:

  • Asking the right questions
  • Making sure your employees feel heard
  • Being open about your shortcomings
  • Giving your employees the opportunity to direct your meeting
  • Showing respect for them as a person

When you make it clear that these events are meant to be a conversation, it supports an open exchange and can help you identify issues that are causing employees to be disengaged. Taking the time to inquire about specific issues and areas for improvement that would increase employee satisfaction can go a long way toward boosting engagement in the workplace.

2. Uncovering the root of the problem

If you fail to discover the underlying problem, your attempts to get employees to enthusiastically carry out your company’s goals will likely fail.

Sometimes the issue stems from something that is taking place in the employee’s personal life, but the most common cause of disengaged employees often lies with your company. For example, a recent reward and recognition survey by Bamboo HR revealed that 82 percent of employees were bothered by a lack of recognition for their accomplishments.

A few areas that have the potential to damage the passion and loyalty of your workforce include:

  • Low compensation
  • High healthcare costs
  • Limited or no employee perks
  • Poor workplace communication
  • Micromanagement
  • Lack of recognition

The reasons behind poor engagement will vary with each individual, but if you identify a specific company policy or procedure that upsets one of your employees, some of their peers may also have an issue with it. Once you determine the root issue, it’s critical to follow up with action to show the employee/employees in questions that you care and are working to resolve the problem.

3. The power of employee recognition programs

A recent survey of 1,000 employees from different businesses found a strong correlation between recognition and job satisfaction. Approximately 70 percent of employees who felt appreciated for their work were also happy at their jobs. Whereas only 39 percent of employees who did not receive recognition were satisfied with their jobs.

In order to show appreciation for specific employee achievements, it’s necessary to have a process in place to track productivity, goal completions and general results. Technology has simplified this process, and even works to increase engagement through employee gamification. Once you find a system that monitors the ideal performance indicators, you can then move forward with different types of recognition programs.

Some popular ways to show appreciation include bonuses, public recognition, gift cards, time off and company trips just to name a few. You can also give your employees the option to choose their preferred reward for meeting the goals that have been set out for them.

Investing the time and resources to show your employees that they are valued will often more than pay for itself with strong retention rates, an improved company culture, higher levels of productivity and elevated business results.

Disengaged employees not only hurt your team, they also impact the bottom line of your company. By re-engaging them into the company, you will be able to improve the overall work atmosphere, enhance productivity and ultimately increase revenue.

Image credit: Pixabay

Annabelle Smyth is a freelance writer who covers everything from HR to technology and leadership skills. She enjoys that variety and exploration that comes with her work but has a special interest in social activism and leadership.

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