Less than a third of U.S. employees feel they are engaged at work. Since Gallup began tracking these stats in 2000, that number hasn’t changed much. Globally, the percentage is even lower – only 13% worldwide feel enthusiastic and involved in their work.
Are we experiencing an employee engagement crisis?
It’s tough to tell when some companies may not have accurate ways to measure. Gallup believes the issue lies with companies taking the wrong approach to finding out what issues their employees experience. Many companies utilize an annual survey to discover how employees feel, but often the survey doesn’t support business objectives and the results don’t show a clear action that needs to be taken. Surveys do well when you want to measure engagement, but the metrics often don’t drive companies to make systemic changes to affect the work environment.
For those companies, it may be better for them in the long run to create a strong positive work culture. The cost of disengagement is high, and work stress can contribute to high health insurance costs and loss of hours. According to the American Psychological Association, 550 million workdays are lost annually because of workplace stress.
Increasing engagement is a responsibility held by company management, but employees can also try other approaches to feel more invested in their work. Here are some tips both employees and employers can use to grow engagement in the workplace.
How to Stay Engaged At Work
Low engagement can lead to a lower productivity level and can even affect your mood outside of work. Feeling this way may cause job burnout and lead to higher stress levels. If you’re looking to be more engaged at work, here are a few tips from Monster.com.
- Refocus on what you do every day and why it makes a difference. Figure out how you and your role fit into the organization, and try to get involved in other responsibilities. Doing so can show your supervisors that you’re willing to be a team player.
- Feeling a lull may be a sign that you need to take a break, whether it means a mental health day or even a vacation. Check your upcoming schedule and coordinate with your supervisor on a time that you could take off and refresh your mind.
- Mentoring another employee could help you feel good about what you’re doing, and may even help you remember why you’re doing it in the first place.
- If you’re experiencing issues that are affecting your work, tell someone about them. Dealing with impediments is a manager’s job, and you need to let someone help you overcome challenges or obstacles. If you feel like you are victim to harassment, tell your HR department and they can assist you in addressing that problem as well.
- Continue your education. Try to put aside time on a regular basis to do something that helps advance your career. Take a course, schedule time with a supervisor to discuss their role or look into joining a professional networking group.
Strategies to Engage Your Employees
As an employer, it’s important to establish a system that accurately evaluates employee engagement. Surveys don’t cut it – according to Gallup, a “scientifically and experimentally validated” approach is the best way to go. These approaches can effect change in both individual and the business’s performance, and they may require a more upfront investment by the company, but will also cause an increase in employee engagement.
Annual surveys can provide data, but they have many shortcomings and don’t allow for the company to plan out a long-term process. A company should start with a baseline and then measure from there. Gallup recommends a three-year roadmap, but each company is different. The roadmap should be based on the company’s goals for employee engagement.
While setting long-term goals, make sure to set short-term ones as well. Meeting monthly and quarterly goals give your team a chance to celebrate and can help improve morale. Being transparent with employees is also vital for an organization. If you fail, let the team know and tell them what happened. They will relate to you more if you share and communicate with them.
Engagement involves many aspects, including performance management, development and promoting positive relationships with co-workers. As the manager, your employees want to see you interacting with them and taking a genuine interest in their lives. Show them that you value them as a person, not just as a number. You may also need to adjust your leadership style – an authoritarian leader may not improve engagement, while a democratic leader could improve
By creating a positive workplace, you can not only increase your organization’s productivity, you can also help your employees’ well-being and stress levels. A positive culture also allows for higher recruitment and retention rates, according to Harvard Business Review.