Resume left on the printer, showing up to work in a suit, taking time off for “doctor’s appointments” more frequently….those are the signs most employers think of when they believe their employee is ready to jump ship. But an associate professor from the University Utah, Tim Gardner, did a study that shows this is not the case.
The one big tell-tale sign was employee disengagement. The subtle but noticeable behaviors that an employee is considering a move in the next one to two months showed up consistently. Gardner offers 10 things to look for in your employee’s demeanor:
- They offered fewer constructive contributions in meetings.
- They were more reluctant to commit to long-term projects.
- They become more reserved and quiet.
- They became less interested in advancing in the organization.
- They were less interested in pleasing their boss than before.
- They avoided social interactions with their boss and other members of management.
- They suggested fewer new ideas or innovative approaches.
- They began doing the minimum amount of work needed and no longer went beyond the call of duty.
- They were less interested in participating in training and development programs.
- Their work productivity went down.
Gardner said if employees were demonstrating at least six of these behaviors, his statistical formula could predict with 80 percent accuracy that they were about to leave the organization.
So the question is, if your employee is disengaged, what can you do about it? Here are three tips to re-engage your employees:
1. Reconnect with the employee
Instead of the “You need to shape up” approach, trying to determine the reason why an employee is withdrawn and looking for ways to help may be a better option. Simply asking questions may be enough to make the employee feel cared for and recognized by the company. Helping staff to connect outside of the office may help as well. This can be an opportunity to re-communicate your company’s goals and how each team member contributes to the outcome.
2. Evaluate your company culture and see what changes can be made to build stronger relationships between people
In a team culture, connections are made between employees that get things done. Being part of the big picture helps employees feel the inclusion that will help keep them an active part of the team. “Job friends” are a huge factor in employee retention so encouraging socialization can increase overall job satisfaction. When employees are isolated, even if the isolation is of their own making, it is easy to feel like the grass would be greener someplace else.
3. Make employees feel secure.
Number one on the list of things necessary for an employee to be satisfied and engaged in their job is security. Of course, no one knows what the future holds but open, honest communication is critical. Even bad news has to be discussed as frankly as possible because if you try to hide it the company grapevine will make it far worse than the reality. If employees know that they can trust you, their level of security goes up ten-fold. Trust is earned slowly but once it is there it is a gateway to the loyalty needed to ensure the employee-employer relationship is strong. Once broken, it can be gone for good- and so may the employee.
There is no easy fix, no one-size-fits-all, no perk that can substitute for engagement. This is hard work and everyone needs to participate on all levels. Susan Sorenson, an editor at Gallup, sums it up wisely. “What workers truly want is an intrinsic connection to their work and their company. That's what drives performance, inspires discretionary effort, and improves wellbeing. That's what keeps people coming to work, makes them excited about what they do, and inspires them to push themselves and their companies forward. There aren't enough foosball tables in the world to provoke that kind of commitment, and a lifetime supply of latte can't change a disengaged worker's mind.” http://businessjournal.gallup.com/content/163316/don-pamper-employees-engage.aspx#2