Triage for the Working Wounded

In my previous post we spoke about the Working Wounded and how they are surviving, but not flourishing, during the economic downturn.  Right Management had some interesting statistics that I shared during the course of the post.  Here are those statistics again for your review:

The survey was conducted in December and January and 438 North American workers responded to the question:

Which of the following best describes your present work situation?

My job is rewarding and gratifying.

I want to enjoy my life, so I work.

My job is unrewarding and saps my energy.

Let me look at this first from a purely statistical viewpoint and then we will jump to remedies that you can employ in your workplace to assist and support the working wounded.

I find it scary that almost half of those who responded said that their job was unrewarding and sapped their energy.  Based on what I have read and seen regarding employee engagement that would say to me that these individuals are prime targets for other firms that are looking for talent.  Disengaged employees are much more prone to look for different opportunities outside of your organization and it would be well worth your time to get a better understanding of just how disengaged your own workplace may be.

Less that one quarter of those responding to this survey found their job rewarding and gratifying.  I have to admit that I don’t love my job every day, but on the overwhelming majority of days I really enjoy and find great satisfaction in what I do.  Anyone can put up with anything for a short while, but it would be of great value to any organization to understand the extent of their employee engagement and to then take some action steps to help address the core issues.  The cost of retention is much lower than the cost of acquisition when it comes to talent.  Trust me, I get paid for both…

If you know that disengagement is a problem in your workforce, then what should you be doing to address this?  Let’s go over a few ideas that would be my first steps if I had a workforce that was disengaged and looking for better opportunities or greener pastures:

1.  Recognize your employees-What I mean here is to show them you care when they do the right thing.  The more public that recognition can be, the better.  The flip side of public recognition is to ensure that you are fair and equitable in this recognition.  If employee A does something and gets recognized, be very sure that employee B gets the same recognition when they do the same.  Timely recognition is also important.

2.  Listen to your employees-Just like a spouse, an employee needs to vent occasionally and you can be a great friend by just listening to what they have to say.  Most employees will not take advantage of this unless they fully trust you.  Trust is easily lost and harder to build or regain.  Do your best to be the kind of employer that listens to their employees, even if you cannot take their advice and put it into play.

3.  Develop your employees-Some of you will say that you cannot do this, but development can take many forms in the workplace.  Having a book club that allows employees to learn and share together is one way to tackle development in a lower-cost manner.  Doing your own in-house workshops is also good, but anytime you can bring in an outside resource it sends a message to your employees that they are important and that they matter.

4.  Have fun with your employees-The better you know your employees and the better they know you, the lower the probability that they will look for a new place to work from.  Many surveys say that employees must make a friend or two in the workplace during their first 90 to 120 days in order to be fully integrated into the workforce.  As time goes by these same employees need to have part of their life intersect with others in the firm.  If you do not provide fun, outside of work, ways for this to happen, the chances will increase that they will find somewhere else to have fun, and to work.

Disengaged employees can be a significant challenge in the workplace.  Even more so, these same employees can be righted with a little effort and with a much lower investment than to replace them completely.

What are you doing to better engage your employees?

What will you do to better engage your employees?