It’s Not Too Late: Here’s How to Turn Around a Disengaged Work Environment

Date posted: February 27, 2018


By Tracy Vides

We are currently in the midst of an employee engagement crisis throughout the American business world.

Gallup has intensely studied the workplace around the country and has found that on average, only about 3 out of 10 employees are actively engaged with their work. This lack of involvement and passion in the office hurts businesses of all shapes and sizes, and it can be especially detrimental to small businesses.

Disengagement can severely slow down company growth and hurt the business’s bottom line over time – a study conducted by Queen’s University of Canada found that a disengaged employee can cost a business $10,000 due to revenue decreases and absenteeism. On the other hand, Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report found that highly engaged work environments experience dramatically lower turnover rates and significantly higher productivity, sales, and profitability rates.

Before you can address any engagement issues, it is important that you understand why it matters so much to your business. Disengagement in the office not only hurts the company; it hurts the people within it by encouraging laziness, shoddy workmanship, and negativity.

Don’t let another day slip by with unengaged workers who are only there to clock in, clock out, and go home. Here are some simple steps to take that can turn around your disengaged office.

Identify the Cause

Harvard Business Review asked 700 workers what capabilities they thought were most important for leaders to have. 70% of the respondents agreed that “inspiring engagement” in the office was a critical quality of a good leader.

Offices that follow a “do as you’re told” mentality often unknowingly foster negative outcomes, such as loss of trust and confusion within the workplace.

Just like a doctor looks for the source of an illness to prescribe a treatment, leadership should do the same with a business. It is nearly impossible to fix a disengagement problem without knowing the deeper meaning behind what is causing it to happen. Many businesses turn to employee engagement surveys to reveal the culprits of disengagement. This is a great solution if the right questions are asked and honestly answered.

With big data making it easy run workplace diagnostics, engagement and feedback tools like Culture Amp can provide accurate assessments to pinpoint the root cause of your troubles. The system uses feedback programs that are designed by professional psychologists to dig up valuable insights vital to the improvement of your workplace. The pulse surveys measure engagement “drivers” and “killers” with insightful reports to help managers see which areas need definite improvements.

Unfortunately, management and leadership are often to blame for active disengagement and dissatisfaction among employees – almost 70% of the time! Take a good hard look at your leadership strategies and assess their effectiveness. There’s a chance it may be time for a drastic change.

Encourage Self-Management

When employees are allowed to freely utilize their talents or develop skills in the workplace, it helps them realize their importance to the organization. Studies have even found that when workers are able to use their strengths every day in the company, they are six times more likely to be engaged and 8% more productive.

Self-management isn’t so much a practice as it is a mindset. The best way to instill this mindset is by delegating tasks and practicing a hands-off approach. Phil Jackson, one of the most decorated NBA coaches in history, was famously calm during high profile games. He operated under the idea that he trusts his players and their abilities, and in turn, just let them play.

A leader who is not able to delegate the right way could soon morph into a micromanager. An overbearing manager can quickly cause frustration among employees, leading to disengagement. The best way to combat this is by loosening the reins (so to speak) and encourage self-management whenever possible.

This concept not only gives employees more opportunities for involvement, but it can also teach them important skills that could help them down the road. Technology is an enabler in this space – HR management software such as Roubler is designed to promote self-management in the workplace. Employees are given self-service capabilities to handle daily tasks on their own, with customizable processes to help.

While a self-service management system encourages independence and accountability, the added benefit is that leaders who are prone to micromanagement may find it easier to take a step back by delegating tasks such as time sheets, onboarding, and scheduling to employees.

Engage by Giving

Getting your employees involved in something beyond their daily tasks could be the answer to your engagement problem. Companies that were actively involved in volunteering or charity work saw measurable increases in engagement that were directly related to employee participation.

Look for opportunities for your employees to get involved with the community. This can be in the form of volunteering at an after-school program, raising funds for charity, or anything else that makes the world a better place. Some businesses, like Salesforce, have paid workdays for their employees dedicated to volunteer work. WebpageFX, an internet marketing company, has seen a huge jump in employee engagement since they began their #FXBuilds employee volunteer program, through which they’ve already helped build two schools in collaboration with Pencils of Promise.

By building a culture that values contribution and involvement for a good cause, leaders can profoundly improve employee satisfaction both in and out of the office.

In Conclusion

If you have noticed that your employees are less than enthusiastic about their job and you see engagement levels declining, it is necessary to deal with the issue head on. Truth be told, as a business owner, you simply cannot bank on everyone loving their jobs. The key is making sure they don’t hate coming to work and will put in a hundred percent once they’re in the door.

Turning the office around into a more engaged environment is by no means easy, but the effort is well worth the outcome.

Tracy Vides is a content strategist and researcher who gives small business and entrepreneurs marketing and social media advice. Tracy is also a prolific blogger – her posts are featured on Tech Cocktail, She Owns It and Business 2 Community. Connect with her on Twitter @TracyVides for a chat anytime!

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