Engagement of employees is currently a highly discussed topic in human resource management, and yet repeated studies find that employee engagement is chronically low in modern workplaces.
Gallup reports that the number of engaged employees in Australian workplaces is as low as 24%. The benefits of employee engagement are well-known, so how is it that we are getting it wrong so much of the time. One answer could be found in management at a local level, which can be due to a variety of factors, as explained below. If you’ve pulled out all the stops in terms of organisational change to influence employee engagement and you’re still not seeing results, typically you’ll find that management is the key to rectifying the issue and ensuring success.
Lack of consistency
Clarity and consistency in terms of goals to be achieved is one of the key aspects of employee engagement. It is not fair to be ambiguous or inconsistent in your directions and wonder why your employees disappoint with what they produce, or are ineffective in their teamwork. Provide clear, consistent instructions for what you want to be achieved, and all will be on the same page and productivity will be much improved.
Nobody likes a brown-noser. Realistically, this doesn’t work for engagement of anyone in the workforce. The favourite employee will be comfortable with their current level of work and will not strive to improve, because why would they? They have all the perks without having to strive. Additionally, the other employees will resent the favourite, and will be disengaged by the idea that they can’t improve their standing, so they won’t bother to work hard either. The subsequent toxic culture will be bad for both company productivity and employee wellbeing. Of course, you’re going to like some people more than others, this is just human nature. Ensure that you don’t let it affect how you treat your employees, however. Reward incentives based on merit, and remain impartial in your language and feedback.
Again, nobody likes a micromanager. Step back and realise that if you have set clear and consistent company values and goals, your employees will make good decisions, as if you made them yourself. Autonomy in the workplace is another key feature of employee engagement, as employees feel rewarded by the ability to take initiative and make their own decisions. What’s more is that they own their work, turning up every day, knowing they have something to contribute.
Lack of open communication
Following on from the last point, effective trust can’t be established without effective communication. Have an open-door policy, and ensure that employees know that they will be listened to. If they come to you with complaints, this is best achieved by actioning their solutions. You must also give regular, unbiased and constructive feedback.
Finally, it is easy to understand why some employees might be burnout if their managers are also disengaged. Managers who don’t use vacation days, workplace perks or send weekend emails, are likely to be setting an example for their employees to do the same. The solution is in offering more training and support. Teach that more hours do not equal more productivity, and incentivise more efficient work, rather than spending more time at work.