A recent Gallup global survey revealed that only 15% of employees are engaged at work. What this means is that a whopping 85% of people are not committed to their job and not motivated enough to give their 100%.
So what can companies do about this? First, they need to recognize that employee engagement is an issue.
Management needs to understand the key factors that lead to “disengaged” employees, namely the relationships between employees and their managers and the company culture. Here are five typical causes:
1.Lack of employee empowerment
The culture of the company is such that it doesn’t empower the employee. People are not encouraged to speak up or get shunned when they do. The company lives by their book of 'best practices' and makes no room for new or next practices.
This sends a strong signal that this is how things ought to be done and no one can question this. Employees just do their job and aren’t empowered to take bigger decisions outside of their job scope. Their opinions and thoughts don’t count. This is a sure-fire way to bust employee engagement.
2. Lack of respect
There is a culture of disrespect that hangs over the company. People are talked down at meetings, openly pulled up when they make mistakes and criticized for having a differing viewpoint.
Foul language is commonplace, and there are no ‘filters’ used in office communication. Employee surveys have highlighted this issue. However, nothing is done to rectify this situation.
This is very demoralizing especially for new employees, who are in for a culture shock in their first few weeks. Another manifestation of this is managers not taking employee reviews seriously.
The whole process is seen as trivial and time-consuming. It’s a formality and a chore that managers want to get over and done with as soon as possible. The employee being reviewed gets little or no feedback at all.
This clearly shows disregard and disrespect towards the employee. The reviewee is most often left demoralized and humiliated with this experience and disconnects from his or her job.
3. Company values are mocked or disrespected
Company values of Respect, Honesty, Teamwork and Trust are up on the pantry wall for everyone to see, but no one actually practices them!
This starts with senior management not setting the right example. Bad and unethical behaviour can usually be attributed to top leadership, and can be clearly seen permeating through the ranks. It is perceived as ‘okay’ to ignore and mock the company values.
Today, values such as Respect, Honesty, Trust, Teamwork etc are a given for any company. Every company should have these as part of their DNA. To truly differentiate yourself, you need to delve deeper and figure out core values that are intrinsically yours and express what they really mean to the organization. More importantly, everyone should embrace and ‘live’ these values every day.
For example, if RESPECT is something you really care about, then go deeper and say: “We treat everyone like family. We respect, value and welcome each other’s opinions and ideas. In our company, everyone is empowered to speak up and will be heard.” You get the point. This value becomes yours uniquely and differentiates you from other companies or the competition.
4. Lack of confidence in the organizational leadership
Typically in companies with a high degree of disengaged workers and weak cultures, employees don’t understand where the organization is headed or what it really stands for.
They haven’t been given a bigger picture of what difference either they or the company makes in peoples lives. The company purpose and WHY is clearly missing.
This makes work unmeaningful and unfulfilling. The job kind of gets done and that’s about it. Employees are not really motivated to give their 100% or have the opportunity to contribute towards something bigger. This becomes an issue with millennials particularly, who are looking for meaningful and fulfilling work.
This generation wants to feel 'significant' and be appreciated for making a difference. It is the job of top leadership and senior management to consistently express the company purpose and vision and where the organization is headed. Painting the ‘horizon’ picture for the company, with a clear mission on how it’s going to get there, is key.
This goes a long way into motivating people and making them feel like they belong to a bigger cause. It grows their confidence in the leadership and spurs them into pushing themselves further in their job.
5. A silo culture
Another key factor that breeds employee disengagement is a culture of non-collaboration. This is where one can see very clear demarcation lines around office cubicles and departments. People don’t mix or mingle beyond their immediate sphere of work or department.
There are hardly any 'water cooler' conversations, people are unfriendly and the office vibe is very cliquish, with the same groups hanging out everywhere.
There is barely any evidence of cross-pollination of ideas. Hardly anyone outside the department gets invited to department meetings or brainstorms. There is no sense of community and camaraderie, and everyone is suspicious of everyone else’s behaviour and motives.
This kind of toxic environment is detrimental to the company and is a huge contributing factor towards creating disengaged employees.
Now that you are aware of these critical factors that create employee disengagement, It's time to fix things and course correct. Let’s look at how to create highly engaged employees in another article.
About the author
Ashok Miranda is a Business Transformation Architect and founder of Transform and Transcend. He is the author of the book: Culling Culturitis, How To Rid Your Company of this Toxic Disease and Build a Winning Company Culture. As a speaker, consultant and trainer, he is passionately committed to architecting a better business world by building purpose-driven companies that nurture happy and engaged employees and positively impact peoples lives. He connects the dots between company culture, branding, marketing and customer experience and works with business leaders, owners, founders and HR professionals to transform their companies for success in the digital age.
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