According to Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace report, less than one third of U.S. employees are engaged at work. The report also estimates that employee disengagement costs the U.S. economy as much as $550 billion every year. Although employee disengagement manifests differently in every company, it often results in low productivity, higher absenteeism, and lower-quality work across industries.
Acknowledging the problem of employee disengagement is only the first step in solving the problem. Before your organization can implement a tangible solution, your leadership needs to narrow-down the source of the problem. Keep reading to find out the top 5 reasons your employees are not fully engaged at work.
1. Your employees don’t feel that their work is important and valued.
Your employees’ belief in their work’s importance, value, and impact to the company is a vital factor in their overall engagement and success in their roles. In order for your team members to be engaged in their work, they need to see a clear connection between their input and positive outcomes for the organization.
To ensure that each of your team members feel that their work is valued, leadership should provide regular feedback on individual progress and keep team members informed about how their work fits into the larger picture of the organization. Additionally, managers (especially those with very large teams) tend to communicate with their team members only when there is a problem or someone is doing something wrong. While this sort of corrective communication is necessary and productive, it is equally important to communicate with team members when they are doing a good job to recognize them for their hard work.
2. Your employees have lost track of the organization’s Purpose and Core Values
For your employees to be fully engaged in their work, they need to understand how what they are doing directly aligns with the organization’s purpose and core values. In fact, research indicates that purpose is one of the strongest drivers of employee engagement because purpose is directly tied to a person’s motivation for working.
To build a more purposeful, values-driven workforce, your leadership team ought to be continually reinforcing the company purpose and core values in everything that you do. Moreover, your employees should have a platform in which they can learn more about the organization’s core values and log progress as they practice living them out in their daily work.
3. There is a lack of communication from leadership about what exactly they expect from their direct reports
It is impossible for employees to be passionate and productive in their roles if they don’t know what is expected of them. Setting a clear framework of standards and expectations is a prerequisite to having a highly-engaged team.
Communication of standards and expectations can take the form of regular check-ins or conversations, but it also needs to be documented in an easily-accessible and preferably visible format. Most people are goal-oriented, so if each of your team members has a clear indication of what he or she is working towards, he or she is likely to have higher engagement.
4. Your employees lack development opportunities
Employees need to feel not only as if they are contributing to the success of the organization, but also that the organization is contributing to their individual success. If you want motived and engaged employees, it is critical to offer clear paths for personal and career advancement, as well as continuous development opportunities.
Offering high-quality development opportunities to your employees will show them that your organization is invested in them and their careers. In the short term, this show of interest in your employees’ growth and development will encourage them to be more engaged, resulting in higher productivity and rates of retention. In the long term, this effort will create a more skilled and knowledgeable workforce.
5. There is no system for holding your employees accountable.
Ultimately, the most engaged employees are driven by purpose and developmental ambition, but not every employee falls into this category. For those employees that are more difficult to motivate, having a system in place to hold them accountable for performing to expectations is a must.
When evaluating performance, most companies rely on a yearly, biannual, or quarterly review, but this model of the occasional performance review proves to be ineffective at establishing regular accountability among employees. In order for your team members to actually feel responsible for their work, there needs to be a system in place for continuous review in which progress is visible across the team.