There are many studies to show that the level of disengaged employees is very high.
One Gallup study showed that only 30% of employees are engaged at work.
This is shocking. I’m surprised to hear that so many people aren’t engaged at work. That means there are many employees who aren’t getting the chance to live up to their full potential.
Now, I wish I could tell you that all our employees are actively engaged at work all the time.
But… I can’t.
In fact, I can remember working for previous jobs where I was actively disengaged.
So, the question we have been wrestling with is how do we get as close to 100% employee engagement as possible?
Is Employee Engagement Important?
Let’s step back for a second. Is employee engagement even a goal that we need to strive for? I’ve been asking our team and my mentors that question.
It seems like a reasonable question. I mean maybe we can set up enough structure to ensure we still get a high level of output from even disengaged employees.
It didn’t take long for us to realize that this wasn’t what we wanted. We never want to create that kind of environment. Instead, we want engaged employees because a fully engaged employee is living up to their full potential. If you love what you do, then it never feels like work. Instead, you are passionately working toward a worthy goal. There is something magical when you are working with incredible people all fighting for that goal.
So, then how do we increase employee engagement?
How to Improve Employee Engagement
There are many books written about employee engagement. Many are great and I’m not going to rehash their content. Instead, I want to talk about one thing that we are doing. That is simply to be open and honest with our employees.
Let me explain.
Firstly, when we find an employee being disengaged we don’t get mad. It’s easy for a manager to get mad, but it doesn’t help. It’s important to remember that as a manager we too might be disengaged if we were in the same situation. Instead, we just talk to the disengaged employee. When I’m the one handling the situation, I tell them about specific times that I have been disengaged at work. Then I ask them to be open about what’s going on. Most of them are because they know I’m not going get mad or punish them. Instead I ask, what can I do to improve the situation. This is where the magic starts to happen.
See, we want to create the best environment that we can to help that employee be engaged. We recognize that employees can help us get there. So, we need their regular and honest input. Then during our weekly one-on-ones, I ask the employee for his or her honest assessment of their level of engagement. We then work together every week on solutions.
It does not work to get mad and blame the employee. If a manager gets mad at an employee for wasting time the employee is not going to be more engaged. In fact, he might become less engaged. Instead, be open and honest. Include the employee in the solution and work together to find ways to improve engagement.
Now I will say that some employees may still choose to be actively disengaged. And eventually, you might have to terminate them. But I believe the vast majority of employees want to be fully engaged. They will respond well to a manager’s kindness.
So managers, instead of punishing a disengaged employee, try kindness, openness, and honesty. You will be surprised at how well employees respond.