Post sponsored by Aurora University
Half of all U.S. adults have left a job to get away from their manager at some point in their career, according to a recent Gallup survey. And less than one-third of Americans are engaged in their jobs, a number that hasn’t changed much since 2000 when Gallup first began measuring employee engagement.
Lack of employee engagement at work can have a significant negative effect on productivity, customer service, and employee retention, according to OfficeTeam. The staffing company reports that more than one in four professionals felt their company was not effective at keeping workers motivated, and 61% of respondents said they would likely leave their current position if they did not feel engaged.
Gallup estimates that the 18% of employees who are actively disengaged at work cost U.S. businesses $450 to $550 billion in lost productivity per year! In contrast, high employee engagement increases profitability by 16%, employee productivity by 18%, and customer loyalty by 12%, according to Gallup
So what steps can business leaders take to tackle this serious problem?
1. Promote open communication
“A successful feedback loop measures and reviews employee performance in an effort to improve future productivity,” writes Entrepreneur’s Andre Lavoie. “Continuous communication in the workplace is crucial to developing employees, yet only 2% of employers provide ongoing feedback to their employees, according to a 2013 survey of 803 HR professionals by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).”
Regular meetings in an informal, one-on-one setting can help improve communication and engagement. Gallup found that employees whose managers hold regular meetings with them are nearly three times as likely to be engaged as employees whose managers do not hold regular meetings with them.
2. Let employees test new ideas
“Many employees, by their very nature, are risk-adverse,” writes Kevin Daum at Inc. “That’s why they are employees and not entrepreneurs. If they work in an environment where the boss is always correcting them before they have a chance to execute, they will constantly look for approval before taking action or, worse, simply avoid any new or dynamic action.”
Daum recommends giving employees the freedom to try new ideas in a way that doesn’t put the company in danger. Through the process, they’ll learn from their failures and successes, and become more engaged and innovative in their work.
3. Budget for personal development
Opportunities for professional growth not only engage employees, but they help workers grow to pursue leadership roles within the company.
“Employees are an organization’s most important asset, so invest in them,” Lavoie says. Formal education, internal or external training, lunch-and-learn programs, professional development events, and professional associations can help employees grow and advance.
4. Help employees understand the direction of the company
Employees don’t always have all the details to take action and lead others, or to navigate tricky situations. Leaders can communicate with employees what will help them be successful and represent the company well.
“An employee who clearly understands the core values, purpose, and direction of the company can easily make consistent decisions and take appropriate action at any junction,” Daum says. “It’s on you as the leader to impart your vision. That’s how you lead.”
5. Establish clear roles, responsibilities, and goals
If workers don’t understand what they are supposed to do, they can’t do their job very well and it’s hard for them to get excited about it. Confusion can also cause redundancy and blurred responsibilities between employees.