Copyright TIGERS Success Series by Dianne Crampton

One of the fastest ways to damage morale is to ask employees for their opinions, then ignore their replies.

That’s the conclusion that Gallup, a research-based performance management consulting company, has reached and with good reason. Employees and team members actively disengage in the workplace if solicited opinions and suggestions from company surveys, etc. are not acted upon. This leads to oppressed innovations, lack of morale, low productivity, misunderstandings, and poor employee communication with team leaders.

Engaged Employees are Committed to their Employers

On the contrary, employees that have been given a voice and are instrumental in organizational processes are more likely to be engaged and enthusiastic about their job duties, job performance, and the organizational success as a whole. Gallup’s research shows that engaged employees are deeply committed to their employer, leading to key improvements in business outcomes, including reductions in absenteeism, turnover, shrinkage, safety incidents, and product defects.

So what happens when leaders ask for employee input and then don’t follow through on suggestions?  You get organizations that fail to grow, fail to remain competitive, fail to develop new processes or innovations, and lack team member engagement, cohesiveness, and accountability.

20 million miserable employees nationwide

Gallup counted the number of extremely miserable employees — which they refer to as “actively disengaged” (because they also encourage others to be disengaged)  right at 20 million nationwide. Out of approximately 100 million full-time workers, there are 20 million actively disengaged employees in the United States.

And these are the people that are miserable in their jobs…so where does the rest of the U.S. workforce lie? According to Gallup, in the 3rd quarter of 2011 only 29% of the workforce was actively engaged and were likely to be extremely productive in their jobs. The other 52%, although not miserable, are disengaged and emotionally unattached none the less. Only 29 % of Americans are making a positive contribution in the national workforce – a sobering statistic as to the state of  U.S. business welfare and the economy.

Active listening and collaboration initiates engagement

So where do you start to engage employees in the workplace? It begins with employers and team leaders actively listening to employees, collaborating with them, and involving them in multiple processes. Any large initiative is going to require the leader’s support. Employee engagement is part of any organization’s success. Leaders must be committed to employee engagement, strengths development, and leadership development.

For over 20 years, TIGERS Success Series, has provided the solutions and resources for team member accountability, effective communication, team cohesion, and workplace engagement with sustainable, measurable results. Here are five tips to engage employees in the workplace and see increases in productivity, morale, and employee retention.

  • Promote team member wwnership with Collaborative Hiring When team members are directly involved with some part of the hiring process, they have a higher level of commitment and loyalty to the organization.
  • Delegate Authority  According to the findings in the 2011 Employee Engagement Trends, a key driver for employee engagement is purpose. Without purpose, employees merely show up for the paycheck and will jump ship if other opportunities arise leaving the business with a high turnover rate.
  •  Build Accountability By creating incentive programs, clearly defining goals, and giving staff the tools and resources to achieve those predetermined goals, you build an entrepreneurial spirit and that is accountable and measurable.
  •  Provide mentorship coaching and employee training  Incorporate e-learning as a component of your training and development programs to save your organization time and money along the way. Countless studies have shown learning programs that align with strategic business initiatives drive business results.
  • Master effective leadership skills for effective communication and conflict resolution, to promote open and honest dialogue, improve team listening skills, handle communication breakdowns, and identify your leadership style.

Happy, productive employees are the backbone of any organization. To take employees from “disengaged” to “engaged,” employers must assume responsibility in seeking the root of the problem, listening to and valuing employee input, and initiating effective processes to increase employee and organizational productivity though employee responsiveness and development.

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