Individual Contributors Are Ready to Walk * Can You Afford to Let Them?

It’s no surprise that employees, for the most part, continue to be disheartened in their workplaces. Why? They at least have a job, don’t they?

That’s precisely the argument lending to employee disengagement. The “survivors” of the actions taken during the recession – layoffs, cuts in pay, pay freezes – also took on much more work, likely in tasks or roles they’re not particularly good at or fond of. But they did it to help the company make it through the recession.

And what kind of thanks do they get? Very little. Talent Management magazine recently examined the current state among an oft ignored but vital group of employees – individual contributors. Here’s the story in a nutshell”

The Problem – No growth opportunities mean a desire to change jobs.

“The study found a high number of individual contributors feel their roles are stagnant. What’s more, they reported they will leave their organizations as soon as they feel the time is right. … When DDI asked respondents if they would move to another company if given the opportunity, 55 percent of the sample said yes. Among stagnant workers, that number jumped to 77 percent.”

The Impact – Customers will notice.

“In most organizations, this would lead to massive, costly and disruptive turnover. Individual contributors far outnumber leaders, and these workers usually comprise the majority of any organization’s population. When individual contributors begin to leave, it’s likely that customers will notice.”

The Contributing Factors – Managers skipping the “soft skills.”

“Additionally, individual contributors are disappointed in their bosses and managers, furthering dissatisfaction with their own roles. Stagnant workers were twice as likely to cite their boss as the one thing they’d change about their workplaces. And when asked about the inferior skills of their managers, individual contributors overwhelmingly chose soft skills, with communication and listening next in line.”

A Solution – Empower managers to recognize their teams.

“One final option to optimize the engagement of individual contributors and to ensure they stay is to evaluate leaders. Do leaders have the skills to develop their teams and provide recognition? Are they focusing too much on problems while ignoring their people? Do leaders have the authority to act?”

Are you acknowledging the disengagement of the largest body of your workforce – your individual contributors? Are you taking even the basic steps to alleviate that disengagement – teaching and encouraging managers to recognize employee contributions and behaviors, showing the employees how much they are valued?

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