Employee Engagement's Silent Killers

Here are four engagement killers that employees most often complain about, and what HR can do to fix them.

By Dan Harris

There are organizations that you could walk into and, with just one foot in the door, see their blaringly obvious management and HR issues. These factors make it clear why employees might disengage and ultimately leave the company -- with negative feelings in tow.

However, there are many competent and trustworthy leaders who are doing the best they can to address employee engagement. They look for ways to make work better, improve productivity and motivate employees to want to stay onboard.

But sometimes, even after all these efforts and grand gestures are made, engagement remains low.

This is where the silent killers of employee engagement come in and hurt working relationships and trust. Although they're not obvious or frequently talked about openly between employees and leaders, they're destroying your employees' and company's success.

Quantum Workplace recently released a report, 2017 Employee Engagement Trends, which found that employees had ranked these silent killers as their least-favorable items.

Here are the four silent killers hamstringing your employee-engagement efforts:

1. Employees aren't "in the know."

Company leaders are attempting to be as transparent as possible to further their team's employee engagement. However, despite transparent pay scales and enhanced open-door policies, employees still feel left in the dark.

This is especially true when it comes to understanding why leaders make changes within the organization.

No matter how open you are with goals, pay, or honest discussions, when employees are questioning leaders' decisions, it shakes the foundation of their trust in the organization. Employees then lose the motivation to offer input and contribute to the company's future.

Whether you feel an organizational change is big or small, offer a detailed explanation to your team. Be clear and genuine in your presentation. Explain why the decision was made, how you reached your conclusion, how it impacts the company's future, and how it will -- or will not -- directly affect employees.

2. Growth opportunities aren't clear.

Employees aren't just interested in clocking in and clocking out - they're looking for ways to build their skillsets. If your company isn't making those opportunities clear to employees, they may not stand by to see what's around the corner.

In fact, a new SHRM study, 2017 Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement: The Doors of Opportunity Are Open, found that 21 percent of employees leave for career-advancement opportunities.

Unfortunately, some employers think they're making growth opportunities clear by simply promising employees a chance to develop their skills or promote through the ranks. In this competitive job market, employee engagement relies on your team seeing available growth opportunities and understanding how they can reach them.

Speak with employees about their goals and expectations during monthly or quarterly performance conversations. Don't just listen and nod. Instead, fully engage by offering tips, short-term goals, or coaching to help employees achieve growth within your company.

3. Recognition isn't offered.

Low employee favorability for recognition may come as a surprise to many company leaders. With so many platforms, programs, and creative ways to recognize employees, the disconnect can come as a shock.

So what's the problem?

Although recognition can build employee engagement, the main goal should be to genuinely motivate and encourage your team. In fact, our report found the biggest drivers in engagement are those that offer support and cultivate belief in future success.

Change your team's attitude toward recognition by offering it more frequently and with sincerity. Let your team know you're there to support them and believe in their ability to achieve goals they set.

Remember, the company's future successes don't only rely on big projects and landing major clients. Team members who are contributing to less-obvious successes are key to the working mechanisms of your organization as well.

4. They're ready and willing to leave.

Even after all your hard work and focus on employee engagement, some of your employees may still be looking to leave. This silent killer is arguably one of the most dangerous because an employee's motivation to be successful at your organization dwindles as they look for opportunities elsewhere. A lack of motivation results in lowered morale and teamwork across the board. 

Staying on top of employees' values, concerns and expectations is crucial for understanding if it'd be easy for them to leave the company and, most importantly, why.

Fully engulfing yourself in your team's opinions, questions, concerns, triumphs and failures will not only help you understand their willingness to leave, but it will also show you're personally invested in their future no matter what their ultimate course.

Dan Harris is a workplace insights analyst at Quantum Workplace. Send questions or comments about this story to hreletters@lrp.com.


Sep 13, 2017
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