How to Best Engage Employees and Avoid the Mental Check Out

Engaged employee at a company event

How to Best Engage Employees and Avoid the Mental Check Out

At a recent leadership conference, a professor evoked a room of laughter with the following joke: “A CEO was asked how many people work in his company: ‘About half of them,’ he responded.” After the conference, several organization heads became more serious and admitted that they too struggled engaging employees who had mentally “checked out.”

87% of employees reported that they are not engaged at work in Gallup’s 2016 Poll. Employee’s who solely care about punch-in and punch-out cost a pretty penny for companies across the US. It is estimated that companies collectively lose over $350 billion a year due to low employee engagement. Disengaged employees impact productivity, office culture and ultimately the bottom line.

So, how do we fix this? How do we motivate our teams to put their best effort in at work? Here are some ways to enhance employee engagement in the office:

Communicate: One Clear Goal:

Company leaders must clarify one clear goal. Many teams fail when there are multiple agendas at hand. Using face-to-face communication, managers should clearly explain how they plan to reach their next objective. Setting aside only a short period of time to discuss before beginning a project helps avoid future confusion and frustration. Leading “in person” assures that a team is on the same page.

Collaborate: Collaborative Work vs. looking out for oneself:

People work harder when they know others are counting on them. Employees want to feel connected to their coworkers, managers and organizations. If these ties are missing, employees lack a sense of commitment to their company. Little dedication causes a higher turnover rate, leading companies back to the costly recruitment process.

Team building activities are crucial in creating unified office culture and dedication. Employee focus should be directed towards the betterment of the team instead of personal gain. Some team building ideas are:

  • Use ice breakers at the beginning of meetings. Making ice breakers a part of your office culture helps break through barriers and create employee connections.
  • Get out of the office! People tend to open up more outside of the work place. This change of scenery leads employees to speak freely and think outside of the box. Progress stems from creativity- driving your company from what is to what could be.
  • “Take an employee to work day.” For big companies, schedule a day employees can visit other departments to see what they do. This fun-tactic helps eliminate any divisional stereotypes. Make sure that people of all levels in the company participate, including managers and senior executives.

Convince: Highlight Purpose

There needs to be balance between team building and reassuring each employee of his or her individual purpose. Expressing the value of individual roles helps give employees a sense of self-affirmation. By giving their work meaning, employees feel fulfilled by what they do.

It is okay to reward an individual employee for exceptional work! If an employee has gone above and beyond, let him or her leave a few hours early on a Friday. Even smaller gestures go a long way- simply pulling aside an employee and congratulating them after a great presentation will be remembered. The more you recognize an employee’s contributions to the team, the more irreplaceable they will feel.

Invest: Invest in your employees:

Do more than promote results. Too many companies rely on an outdated system or no system at all to promote employee engagement. Creating a permanent internal communication team or outsourcing professionals is necessary in ensuring consistent employee engagement. When your employees are happy, they are your very best ambassadors.

Promote healthy relationships within the company

Remind employees that you too are part of the team. Making higher ups approachable creates a sense of community. Companies like Facebook and Costco have eradicated walls in their offices, displaying a physical representation of tearing down organizational barriers. Reminding employees that everyone is equal spreads a sense of organizational pride.

Evaluate and Iterate

Encourage employees to share their thoughts and concerns. You can’t fix something you aren’t aware is broken. Once employees feel a sense of community at work, they will feel confident enough to open up. Dedication to a company causes a drive to make it better.

Engage employees when cat videos conquer the coffee break!

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