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When employee engagement is low, whose fault is it? The government, the nature of the work, the wider economy, the employee themselves? Well yes all of these may contribute towards a general sense of discontent but when it comes down to employee disengagement the fault can be laid squarely at the door of the leadership. So much so that a recent survey by Investors in People revealed that of the 24% of people who are looking to move jobs because they are unhappy in their current positions, just under 50% directly blame bad management for their unhappiness.
In fact, the same report revealed that 47% of those surveyed were looking to change jobs in 2014 and a quarter of them would have moved sooner had the job climate allowed. It’s a stark message for management. You may have survived the recession with what you fondly think to be a honed and loyal team but nearly half of your employees have itchy feet. And at an average replacement cost of £30,614 that is a potentially massive drain on the business finances, just at the time when you are looking to rebuild a strong base for the future.
Where did you go wrong? What turns an employee who is fully engaged in the beliefs and behaviours of the organisation into one who is timeserving until they find something better? Well the “top tips” for disengaging employees are:
* Never Explain. You’ve been fighting to survive a recession so you haven’t had time to sit and chat with employees, right? Wrong. When you are fighting through the bad times is exactly when you should go out of your way to involve employees in the organisation. Opening up decisions, empowering, sharing, will all help to encourage employees to feel that the fight is as much theirs as that of the company and they are more likely to respond with innovative suggestions for survival. Don’t explain and all you get is mistrust and toxic speculation.
* Pile on the pressure. You’ve had to cut the team down so it’s perfectly fair to expect more and more from the remaining employees! Of course they’ll have to work longer hours for no extra pay and respond to demands for statistics to be provided late at night or at weekends! Wrong again. Yes employees may be willing to take on extra responsibilities when times are tough but here again the more that you go out of your way to involve them and the more attention you pay to retaining a good work/life balance the more they will do within work to help the organisation. Otherwise you get a burnt out disillusioned employee who is only hanging on until they can find another job.
* Play favourites. Salute the ‘yes men’, the people who bring you good news or who drink in the same pub. Sure they may be the most unproductive employees of the lot, they may even be the cause of much extra work in others but hey, they are good buddies so they must be OK? Wrong, wrong, wrong! Just because the business is going through tough times it doesn’t mean that you should ditch reality and rely on word of mouth. This is exactly when the 360 appraisals, the unfiltered performance figures, the engagement profiles should come to the fore. When you want everyone on your side you have to realistically pay attention to everyone and that includes going out of your way to seeking out those who are actually performing miracles and taking the time to say thank you.
If you think you’ve survived the recession with an intact workforce think again. Employment is rising, job availability is rising and unless you take steps now to know your employees and to re-engage them in the beliefs and behaviours of the organisation, you are in for a busy time in HR this year.