Consider your top employee, that person you’d hate to see leave. What would the impact of losing that person have on productivity, customers, and revenue? While some people quit and leave a company, others quit and stay. In other words, they disengage.
According to Gallup, about 70% of American workers are disengaged. Can you prevent your top employees from joining that group?
- The first is simply disengaged. They are physically there, but just putting in their time and going through the motions.
- The second kind is “actively disengaged”. This group isn’t just unhappy at work, they make sure everyone knows it.
Imagine 70% of your team or your company made up of some combination of these disengaged employees. Actively disengaged employees alone are estimated to cost US companies up to $500 billion annually.
That’s a lot of disengagement and a lot of money, but there is hope because 95% of turnover and disengagement avoidable. In addition, engaged workforces outperform others by 147% in earnings per share. The key to taking advantage of this opportunity is knowing why employees are disengaged and how to reengage them before it’s too late.
Let’s look at eight reasons employees disengage and even quit their job that you can do something about.
1. Their Boss
The single biggest factor leading to disengagement and turnover is an employee’s relationship with his or her boss. Spending 40-50 hours each week with someone you don’t like or respect is stressful and takes a toll. Eventually, people withdraw for self-preservation.
2. Disconnection from co-workers
Co-workers are another critical factor impacting employee engagement. They influence how an employee feels every day. Millennial workers value the social aspect of work even more than other generations. Their blending of personal and work lives mean that the relationships at work are more important than they’ve ever been.
Managers can influence this by providing opportunities for team members to get to know each other. This not only facilitates the connection they want, it also improves communication and teamwork, providing a nice return on the effort invested. This can be accomplished in small ways such as adding a bit of time for informal interaction at the beginning of a meeting, team development, occasional after hours gatherings, pot lucks, etc. There are a lot of little ways managers can do this, and, given the cost of disengaged workers, it is worth the effort.
3. Lack of developmental opportunities
In one survey, 80% of employees hadn’t had training in the previous five years. That is not only a disengagement risk, it is also a productivity risk. Development can come in many forms. Formal training is certainly one of them, and the one people think of most often. Some of the others include shadowing, mentoring, sharing best practices at team meetings, and coaching. One of the things that distinguishes Millennials from other generations is the amount of development they want. Are you providing it?
Managers can provide development easily and inexpensively by combining various approaches. Make sure that you encourage people to attend quality, relevant training. In addition to that, take advantage of daily informal opportunities through coaching, reading, leveraging internal mentors, sharing best practices, and so on.
For anyone concerned that if you invest in developing people, they’ll leave, keep this in mind from Richard Branson…
Train people well enough so they can leave, but treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”
4. They aren’t challenged
No one wants to be bored and unchallenged by his or her work. Uninteresting work without the opportunity for growth can certainly lead to disengagement, especially for your most talented and motivated employees. Challenging employees doesn’t mean simply giving them more work; it means giving them new tasks that enable them to learn and grow.
Find out where employees’ interests lie, what skills they would like to develop, and find opportunities to challenge them in those areas. For example, you may have someone who wants to improve his ability to influence so you have him present at an all-hands meeting. The best managers challenge people to stretch themselves in a variety of ways. If you fail to challenge your employees, you risk boredom and disengagement.
5. Limited opportunities to pursue their passion
The opportunity to apply one’s unique strengths on the job is another important key to long-term engagement. When employees get a chance to do what they do best every day, they experience pride and a sense of accomplishment, which boosts self-confidence.
I worked as a supervisor in a group home for 3 years after college. I had a brief conversation with the president of that company as she visited the house and I mentioned that I enjoyed training. The following month, she asked me to be part of developing superviors in all 12 houses. It was a huge success and beneficial for both of us. She never would have had the opportunity to leverage that strength if she hadn’t taken the time to uncover my passion. It’s no surprise that this company has grown to 65 homes with over 1,000 employees and was rated the top workplace in MN for 2016.
Pursuing one’s passion energizes people and improves productivity and job satisfaction. Mangers must get to know the employees on a more personal, individual level to find opportunities to tap into an employee’s strengths and passions. Are you making the effort to do so?
6. Feeling overworked and overwhelmed
Doing more with less has become a common refrain in companies across the country and people are feeling the effects. Dr. Tiffany Sanders reports, “approximately 40% of all workers today feel overworked, pressured and squeezed to the point of anxiety, depression and disease.” Overworked employees who have a choice will leave. Those who don’t will quit and stay.
Companies that understand the cost of overworked employees are taking steps to help. What they cannot fix through increased efficiencies, they are creatively addressing by offering things like flex time, dry cleaning, gift cards for family dinners, etc. What are you doing to provide some relief for employees feeling overwhelmed?
7. They don’t see a purpose in their work
Employees today don’t just want a job, they want to feel connected to a worthwhile purpose. Those who don’t see a connection between their daily tasks and a greater purpose will disengage and soon look for different opportunities.
Help them feel connected by talking regularly about the company vision, mission, and values and how they impact the company’s strategic initiatives. What is clear to leadership may not be readily apparent a few levels down. Learn your company’s story and tell it passionately and frequently.
8. They don’t feel valued
Smart leaders make certain their managers know how to balance the business side of their job with the people side. Managers who only focus on the business side generally see short-term success because people will stay engaged only so long when they don’t feel valued. Managers who fail to really care will always have high turnover rates. There is little motivation to put in one’s best effort when that effort isn’t appreciated or valued.
One of the most effective things leaders can do is hire managers who understand how important it is to balance the business and people side of their job. These are approachable managers who are likely to make people feel valued and engaged. People need to hear that they are valued and appreciated. Are you telling them?
Disengagement is prevalent and costly. It is difficult to determine the exact cost to your company because it doesn’t show up as a line item on a balance sheet. With 70% of US workers disengaged, it is safe to assume you have some disengaged employees on your team. Each of these eight reasons people disengage is preventable. With actively disengaged employees costing US companies $500 billion per year and engaged workforces outperforming them by 147%, can you afford to do nothing?
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Dr. Heather Johnson is a nationally recognized speaker with extensive experience developing leaders. With a doctorate in Psychology and over 20 years of business experience, she works with leaders to quickly identify individual and team performance obstacles and develops customized solutions that lead to rapid change and lasting results. Heather facilitates public and in-house workshops that deliver personalized, practical, and immediate results. Some of her most requested topics are: Influence, Emotional Intelligence, Team Building, Communication, and Strategic Planning. For more information call contact us here or call 651-322-7821.