Keeping employees engaged is no easy feat. It’s certainly not something you can work on once and call it a day; instead, it’s something you have to keep working and investing on month over month, year over year, in order to see the best results.

It’s estimated that 50% of today’s workforce is actively looking for another job. And that the cost to replace an employee usually costs a company about 1/2 to 2x their annual salary.

Employee engagement can be mapped to employee productivity, and in today’s competitive landscape, that is no longer optional. Without employee engagement, you’ll have to deal with absenteeism, lack of productivity, and yes, increased costs.

Today, we’ll be sharing with you four strategies for dealing with disengaged employees, and some ways to proactively prevent that from happening in the future.

Strategy #1 – Clear Job Expectations

According to Glassdoor, 53% of job seekers/workers find clear job expectations to be the most important to a positive work experience.

As with anything, your best bet is prevention. If you set clear job expectations from the start, and give employees the opportunity to ask questions and clarify the details of their roles and responsibilities upfront, there’ll be less room for misunderstandings down the line.

Having your clear job descriptions and expectations in writing is best so you can have the employees sign the document, giving both parties something to look back to if any doubt arises.

When or if expectations are not met, or your employees have any questions regarding their position, be sure to make yourself available for a meeting where you can review the document with them and discuss opportunities for change and improvement.

Employees also need a clear understanding of how their role or success will be measured. They should receive regular feedback on their performance and progress and any praise or concerns should be brought up immediately. Don’t “wait” until review time.

Strategy #2 – Opportunities for Growth & Mentoring

A career path supported by mentoring has always been important for employees. Having a specific person to look up to or ask questions of can play a big part in helping your employees transition to your organization and to their role.

A recent study showed that 79% of Millennials see mentoring as crucial to their career success. And when Millenials are expected to make up the majority of the workforce by 2025, that is an important figure to pay attention to.

Mentoring has been shown to contribute to employee engagement, satisfaction, and loyalty…thus retention. But it has also been shown to be beneficial for the mentors as well.

In addition to mentoring, it’s important to take the time to listen to your employees’ interests and goals – and then based on that information, try to find relevant projects and initiatives for them to participate in. This will help keep them feeling motivated and purposeful inside your organization. Don’t think that is important? Think again.

According to this study, “belonging” was found to be consistently and universally tied to a person’s workplace commitment, motivation, and pride. This was true even when considering differences across gender, ethnicity, age, or sexual orientation, the study showed that employees are more likely to be engaged if they feel like they belong. This is a big challenge for leaders today and one we will address in more depth in a future post.

So when you find a disengaged employee, it’s important to understand the real “why”. Is it boredom, skill gaps, lack of belonging, confusion, etc? It’s incumbent on the leader to discover why and not just assume it’s an attitude of pure performance issue.

Strategy #3 – Regular Touch Points & Safe Places to Provide Feedback

Providing regular feedback, input, and opportunities to ask questions or bring up concerns is really important. In fact, essential to employee engagement.

As the VP of Customer Experience for a Fortune 100 company, one of the teams under me was the call center. I could not believe how many times I heard the sentiment of, “well, I didn’t get a pink slip today, so I must be doing ok”.

The disengagement of previous leadership left the team feeling insignificant, unsure, and insecure about their work. There was no regular or formal structure in place to provide feedback…until there was a problem. That’s the worst way to lead people. No surprise there were terrible engagement scores and constant turnover on the team.

Every employee needs an opportunity for regular feedback, clarity on the expectations and measures of their performance (as stated in point #1), and a safe place to share questions, concerns or ideas.

This is essential to engagement, and frankly important if you intend to be a continuously improving organization.

Employees should be provided opportunities to provide feedback to you in private or to ask questions when they have them. Further, they should have meetings where their own performance is discussed…and hopefully not only at the annual performance review. It’s particularly important in these meetings for you to show appreciation and recognition for a job well done, as well as empathy and respect when discussing challenging performance feedback.

Including employees in the solution-making process is also good for engagement. Not just asking them if they have any suggestions but also by including them in the brainstorming for solutions and the recommendations for the step-by-step implementation. These projects or workgroups allow you as the leader to see a different side of your employees and provide opportunities to offer additional soft coaching with tips for improvement and to empower the employee to problem-solve and suggest any additional strategies going forward.

Strategy #4 – Strong Culture

Having a strong culture is the foundation of engagement. Building a strong culture requires a commitment from the top-down, with consistency, authenticity, and a determination to keep humans more important than KPIs.

Brave leaders understand that a proper focus on employees and humans first will result in the overall growth of your organization. You won’t have good engagement, you won’t have a strong customer experience without an intentional culture strategy and subsequent aligned brand communications. Period.

Part of building a strong culture is to:

  1. Remember who you are and what you stand for. Don’t lose sight of your purpose, your why, your promised impact for your customers.
  2. Make sure that “why” is represented in your brand messaging externally and to employees internally.
  3. Making authentic connections with people – creating a safe place to explore, question, innovate, fail, and exceed.

What? Fail? Yes, that is correct. Failure is part of trying – it’s not a final black/white judgment of a team’s ability. All of the great leaders know that things that don’t work are a lesson and the best businesses use that to improve.

In creating authentic connections, it’s important to allow space for employees to relate and interact. We can’t just expect staff to work all the time and never have downtime for getting to know and support one another. The most toxic cultures create a system where people feel like machines and can’t talk or connect with others. Allowing connection is good for business. In fact, 3 in 5 people say having a “work best friend” makes work more enjoyable, with 12% of people stating they’re less likely to leave a company if they have a good friend there.

So as a leader, it’s important to foster relationship-building in your team, to create a better work environment for everyone. Encourage leaders to participate and offer opportunities for everyone to “let their hair down” and get to know each other on a “non-work” basis.

Creating these opportunities for “getting to know you” on a regular basis will facilitate a sense of belonging and fulfillment at work.

Here at Boss Lady Consulting, we are passionate about helping organizations and companies create businesses that place humans above KPIs. Because we know that is your path to success. In fact, we’ve helped businesses see as much as a 32% growth in employee engagement in 2 years, and we can do the same for you too!

If you are struggling with constant turnover or difficulty keeping your best employees, let us help you evaluate your culture and employee engagement and set you up for a winning team, culture, and business!

You can book your free, no-pressure exploration call today, to explore if working together makes sense for you and your business.

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