Disengaged employees can be the death of a company. Employees who dislike their jobs, watch the clock, or put the absolute minimum effort into their daily activities can kill the performance and morale of a business. The problem is significant especially in the current economic environment. According to the latest “State of the American Workplace” report by Gallup, 70% of employees are currently disengaged costing U.S. companies more than $450 Billion in lost productivity. They also found that leaders play a critical role in the level of engagement.
Employee engagement has become one of the latest corporate buzzwords with 78% of business leaders saying it is both an urgent and important priority, according toDeloitte. Companies have tried a range of techniques to improve the level of engagement but, according to Gallup, the percent of disengaged employees has not changed significantly in the past five years.
What if the solution to the problem was simple? What if, as a leader, you could change just one thing to create an actively engaged workforce? Studies have shown there is a simple answer and it is related to the level of respect you give to your workforce.
According to one study by Psychometrics, employee engagement directly affects the production and efficiency of an organization. Actively engaged employees provide real, tangible benefits to an organization such as:
- 39% showed a willingness to do more than expected
- 27% exhibited higher productivity
- 13% reported better working relationships
- 10% more satisfied customers
They also learned the most significant driver to create and sustain an environment of strong employee engagement was the company’s leadership. 84% of survey respondents indicated that leaders and managers are primarily responsible for the amount employee engagement.
When asked what leaders could do more of to improve employee engagement, survey respondents all pointed to one word, respect. Employees want to be respected by the people they work for. They want leaders who are considerate, communicate clear expectations, listen to employees’ opinions, and provide regular feedback.
The truth is that many managers have never been formally trained in leadership. They are promoted because of their education, technical ability or past performance. Because of this, they may not fully understand how critical their actions are to creating and sustaining an environment of employee engagement.
Paul Marciano, author of “Carrots and Sticks Don’t Work: Build a Culture of Employee Engagement with the Principles of RESPECT,” points out seven simple ways in which leaders can show respect to their employees.
- Recognition: Thanking employees and acknowledging their contributions on a regular basis.
- Empowerment: Providing employees with the appropriate resources, training, information and authority to get the job done.
- Supportive Feedback: Giving regular performance feedback — both positive and corrective.
- Partnering: Fostering a collaborative working environment where employees’ opinions are sought out and considered.
- Expectation setting: Establishing and communicating clear performance goals and objectives.
- Consideration: Demonstrating genuine thoughtfulness, empathy, and kindness.
- Trust: Demonstrating faith and belief in employees’ skills, abilities, and decisions.
As leaders, we can directly affect the amount of employee engagement in our companies by our actions. We can lead by example by showing respect to our employees at every level. It is also critical to find, train and promote managers and supervisors who can demonstrate these skills on a regular basis.
As disengaged employees can be the death of a company, engaged employees can breathe life into a company. It’s our duty as leaders to create an environment where employees are respected, engaged and excited to be part of our team. The result will be real, tangible improvements in the company’s morale and performance.