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Engaged Employees vs. Disengaged Employees – Determining Your Workforce

Posted on January 15, 2014
Kim MoshlakWritten by Kim Moshlak | Email author

Engaged EmployeesLet’s face it, engaged employees drive your business. Think of the employee who is aligned with the mission and vision of the organization…s/he produces quality work with a great attitude, “thinks outside the box” and creates new and exciting ways of improving productivity and affecting the bottom line. But what happens when you discover that you have disengaged employees in your organization? Productivity is down, morale is often affected, and you aren’t reaching your goals. How do you know when you have gotten to that point? Let’s talk about some of the indicators of disengaged employees.

  1. What is the tone of your executives? Are they engaged? According to a recent Gallup Business Journal article, “if executives aren’t engaged, employees won’t be either.” Take a look at your organization from the top to see if the culture that you want is being driven.
  2. Do you feel energy and excitement when you talk to your employees? Engaged employees are excited to be at work. They are aligned with the mission and vision, and their excitement is infectious.
  3. What do you do when your employee’s behavior seems to be different than usual? A change in behavior usually indicates that something is different for them. It could be personal or professional, but taking the time to check it out shows the employee that you are concerned about them as a person. That goes a long way to building trust in an organization.
  4. Is your organization hitting its goals? If not, what do you think is causing that? Chances are reasonably good that it is because employees are not feeling strong about their current positions, or the direction of the organization.
  5. Have employees voiced concerns about compensation and benefits programs not being at the level of other organizations in the industry? This could be a key indicator that employees are not happy with their present situation and may be considering looking for another opportunity.
  6. Are employees publicly recognized for their contributions? It is often said, “rewarded behavior is repeated behavior”. Take the time to reward the employees who are helping your organization achieve its goals.
  7. Do employees voice concerns about communication, saying they don’t feel informed? This is a common reason for employees to feel disengaged. Employees work their best when they understand what is expected of them, and when they have a direction toward which to work.
  8. Do you and your managers find yourselves handling more employee relations issues than you think you should? This is important, as engaged employees are typically more in line with the company culture and are generally less high maintenance.
  9. Have you struggled with EEOC claims, excessive investigations, or even lawsuits?

All of these areas are indicators that there are issues with the culture of your organization. The more data you can obtain about the condition of your culture, the better. Employee satisfaction surveys are a great way to collect some of that data. Don’t have the money or manpower to put one together? Consider applying for an award (like “Best Places to Work” from your local Business Journal). Many require an employee survey be completed to receive feedback from the employees directly, enabling the award committees to analyze the condition of the culture, and will provide you with valuable feedback for improvements. You can find awards for which your organization may be eligible to apply online.

Exit interviews are another great way to collect data. These discussions help determine the reasons that employees are leaving, and collect suggestions on ways to improve the culture and processes of an organization. Situations in need of investigation can even come out of these interviews. The number of employees leaving (turnover rate) and the reasons they are leaving should be compared to other organizations in the same industry to determine if there are issues that should be addressed. Many Human Resources executives use this data to create a project or action plan from which to work.

What is your organization doing to retain its key employees? Key employees are those who are either in key positions in the organization, who have valuable institutional knowledge, or who produce work product that exceeds expectations. Essentially, these are the employees whose loss would create a significant impact in the productivity of the organization. There is much information available that addresses how best to retain key employees.

For a look at the ways many top organizations in the Washington, DC area are engaging employees, please see our white papers, “Growing and Developing Your Employees“, “Rules’ of Engagement“, and Engaging Employees in an Economic Downturn — Effectively Leveraging Total Rewards“. These papers can give you some great ideas to improve your employee engagement.

Taking a deep dive into your culture can reveal a lot to you about your organization. Take the time to look at it, and watch your organization move toward meeting (or even exceeding) its goals!

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