A headache is a sympton – of many things from simple neck tension to a disastrous brain tumour.
Never is colour of paint on your car to be considered a sympton of a malfunctioning engine. But some “experts” would have you believe figuratively that an innocuous paint job will somehow stop the engine from burning oil.
Despite what the “experts” tell you, employee engagement isn’t a problem. It’s a RESULT. Results are not treatable or repairable. You can only repair those items that led to the results in the first place. So attempting to address employee engagement without addressing the issues that create it is like painting a car and hoping the new coat of paint will stop the engine from burning oil.
The problem isn’t in how the car looks. The problem is under the hood – where you need to go.
Employee Engagement levels that you are currently enduring are the result of four key areas:
- Hiring – Stop hiring disengaged people. Only 29% of workers are fully engaged. That means at least 7 out of 10 job applicants will not be fully engaged in their work when they apply to work with you. You’ve got to figure out which ones they are. Weed out those with a predisposition to being disengaged in the first place, otherwise you allow them to infiltrate your workplace and disrupt productivity.
- Management – Don’t leave them alone. Remember what happened when the teacher would walk out of the class for a few moments in school? That still happens – even for adults. People will want to play (chatter, gossip, Facebook, Angry Birds) if no one is engaging them in their work. If you are not engaging your people, they are not engaging their work. People will engage in their work in direct proportion to how well their managers engage them.
- Communication – What happens when your favourite radio station goes off the air? You find another station to listen to. Same thing applies in the workplace. When you, as a manager, stop talking, you force your people to tune in another message. Dissenting voices will knock your efforts back several steps and undermine the work you are attempting to do. You must keep broadcasting. Your listeners don’t stop listening just because you’ve stopped talking.
- Safety/Security – If you want people to engage themselves, you’ve got to make them feel safe. People who feel stress from uncertainty never engage well. How can they? Uncertainty and worry are distracting. Lack of communication causes uncertainty. Lack of management engagement causes uncertainty. Constantly looking for new employees causes uncertainty.
You may wrongly believe that some of the things you’re doing are motivators or maybe some of them may seem unimportant but they’re anything but. There are only four key areas any workplace needs to address to begin to turn around the engagement problem.
Oh, and if engagement is the result of not paying attention to the four key areas above, then your corporate culture is the result of a lack of engagement. Culture is NOT one of the reasons why people disengage. If the opposite were true, either 100% of your people would be disengaged or in a great culture, 100% would be fully engaged. Therefore, Culture is the result of poor engagement levels being one of the contributing factors.
If you’re OK with your engagement levels, fine. But if not, you’d better figure out a strategy to overcome the four areas that are creating your disengagement problem and you’d better get on it now.