In the first part of our employee engagement blog series, we broke down some of the tell-tale signs of employee disengagement.
We discussed how employee engagement is broken down into three stages: engaged, not-engaged and actively disengaged. An employee who is “not engaged” will complete their assignments but will shy away from taking on more responsibility or offering new ideas. Where as “actively disengaged” employees aren’t just lacking passion, they are resentful towards their work and their workplace.
Since employee disengagement looks different for everyone and could be caused by many different factors, it is important to be able to recognize it at all its stages. Some of the main signs of employee disengagement cited are poor work quality, lacking enthusiasm, ignoring regular working times, and having a negative attitude.
In this article, we decided to meet up with the Human Resource (HR) Specialist at Sodales, Andrea Talancon, to discuss how to prevent employee disengagement – and what to do if it happens.
Why is Employee Engagement So Important?
Before we discuss how to prevent employee disengagement, let’s define why it’s so important.
One major benefit of having engaged employees is their commitment to their organization. A statistic by Achievers shows that engaged employees are 87% less likely to leave their organization.
We asked Andrea why employee engagement is so important. “When employees are engaged, they feel a connection to their company and the people they’re working with. When engaged, they’ll often work towards a common mission and share goals with their team. This means they’re motivated and embrace their role within their organization.”
Although employee engagement is crucial, Andrea cautions that it’s also important to understand and recognize the difference between employees who may be introverted and those that are disengaged.
Separating your employee’s personality traits from engagement is a critical step to understanding the value of employee engagement. Engaged employees are not necessarily someone that is always very happy and bubbly. It could be someone that is also working quietly, but is still actively a part of the team and thriving in their role. An example of this critical difference between employee engagement and employee’s personality traits is their reliability and commitment to deadlines. If you ask an employee to do something, and they get it done on time, without having to follow up, you can safely assume they’re engaged, Andrea ensured.
“All employees are different,” said Andrea. “It’s important for us, as HR professionals, to spot those employees who require different activities or different accommodations so that everyone is engaged in their own and unique ways.”
How Do You Prevent Employee Disengagement?
Andrea says providing recognition is one of the easiest ways to show employees you care, and it can be very helpful when you are trying to keep employees engaged. According to a study by Achievers, employees who do not feel adequately recognized have lower engagement and are twice as likely to say they’ll quit in the next year.
“It is very easy to show employees you appreciate them when they’re working hard, and it can make a tremendous impact on their overall morale,” says Andrea.
There are many ways you can show your team appreciation. Sometimes this can be as simple as welcoming employee feedback and giving them verbal praise. Andrea also suggests celebrating employee birthdays, anniversaries and milestones, hosting company-wide events or activities and giving extra time off as great ways to show you appreciate your employees. These strategies can help build trust and respect between you and your employees and can ultimately boost employee engagement.
Provide Training and Opportunities
Another way to prevent employee disengagement is by providing continuous training. Andrea warns that employees becoming bored in their role may quickly lead to disengagement. If an employee feels they have stagnated in their position, and don’t have any opportunities for growth it may cause them to withdraw and begin looking for opportunities elsewhere.
To prevent that from happening, teaching employees’ new skills gives them new-found meaning within their role and can be a strong incentive to stay. A study from LinkedIn revealed that companies rated highly on employee training saw 53% lower employee departure.
Teaching employees’ new skills can also make them feel valued, as it shows the organization believes they’re worth investing in. An added benefit to this approach is that you will now have a more educated and knowledgeable team!
Provide Flexible Scheduling
Andrea suggests providing a flexible schedule as another way to improve employee engagement. Employee’s benefit from flexible schedules, as it allows them more freedom to structure their time, but many employers are realizing that offering flexible schedule benefits them as well.
Offering flexible schedules is beneficial to employers because it may help attract and retain employees as it is a desirable benefit. A 2018 survey conducted by Cision found 80 percent of U.S. workers would turn down a job that didn’t offer flexible working hours. The same study showed that 30% said they value flexible work over additional vacation time and 35% said flexible work is so important to them that they prioritize that over having a more prestigious title or position.
Whether organizations like it or not, flexible working seems to be the way of the future. Embracing flexible scheduling now can help keep employees engaged and improve employee retention in the long term.
One major challenge with employee disengagement is it can happen despite an employer’s best effort to prevent it. In this case, Andrea suggests open communication as the best solution.
In Andrea’s experience as an HR professional in a previous position, she once had an employee suddenly become disengaged. Despite her team’s best efforts to foster employee engagement the employee began arriving late, missing work more frequently and missing deadlines. Because this was uncharacteristic for the employee, Andrea believed communication was the best approach to determine what was wrong. Upon a conversation with the employee, they revealed some personal struggles that were interfering with their ability to perform at work. Andrea created a plan with the disengaged employee to support them which eventually led to the employee becoming re-engaged with their work and position within the company.
While an employee’s level of engagement may fluctuate over time, the strategies outlined by Andrea can help prevent active-employee disengagement. Through showing appreciation, providing training and opportunities, providing flexible scheduling and maintaining open communication, Andrea believes that employers can keep their team engaged. When your employees show up and are truly engaged, your organization will be operating optimally. Employee engagement isn’t a temporary project, it is an essential endeavor that needs constant consideration.
In our next blog post in this employee engagement series, we will be discussing with Andrea how to keep employees engaged in remote work environments.