employment engagement team building

5 signs of employee engagement problem

Published on Feb 28, 2016 by Stuart Harris

The latest Gallup study found that 70% of the US workforce is not engaged. That means that well over the majority of working adults do not feel committed, productive or happy at their jobs. All companies need to work on their levels of staff engagement, remembering that it is a process not an end state.

Regular ‘pulse checks’ are necessary to keep a measurement of the engagement rates in your organization. The days of the once-yearly performance review have past and regular quick surveys to judge levels of commitment, workplace happiness and overall engagement are much more effective at capturing the sentiment of your team at any given time.

That being said, levels of engagement are not so secret, in fact there are often visible signs that your team is suffering from low levels of engagement. These signs include:

1. High employee turnover is indicative of low engagement

This is the most obvious and measurable sign of a disengaged workforce. High employee turnover is your clearest indication that your human capital are not getting what they want from your organization and are looking for it elsewhere. Some of the things they may be missing include:

  • Opportunities to advance within your organisation
  • Training and education – people need to feel they are constantly growing and developing their skill set
  • A positive relationship with their manager
  • A good work-life balance - you cannot expect people to continue at a job that routinely expects them to work late nights and weekends (without a very large paycheck)
  • A supportive team – stress-inducing, disengaged or manipulative colleagues will lead to a exodus of talent who know they deserve better
  • A competitive salary

Luckily all of these missing elements can be introduced with a clever people strategy and some essential fires and new hires.

2. Disengagement is a cause and effect of an unhealthy workplace culture

Your staff do not like each other. Your office is full of cliques, gossip, finger pointing and conflict. Your service and sales people speak negatively about their clients and no one is willing to go the extra mile for anyone else. Staff social events are met with groans and there is a generally feeing of discomfort in the team. Unfortunately negative workplace culture is hard to shake and suggests an extreme lack of engagement. Negotiating conflicts one on one is essential to writing the wrongs of a hostile workforce. Asking individuals what they want from their team that they are not receiving is a great starting point to reversing a negative workplace culture.

3. Low engagement = lack of productivity and poor quality of work

If the overall quality and quantity of work put out by your staff has decreased then perhaps your employees are suffering from a bout of disengagement. This is often the fault of management. Is good work praised? Is acknowledgement regularly given? Are you lumping your team with the same monotonous tasks without any hope of growth and career advancement? Doing the same activity over and over again will make your employee an expert but past a certain point it will drive them crazy. Albert Einstein summed it up nicely with his aphorism “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Variety is the spice of life, so introduce it to your team.

4. Unwillingness to accept change

While variety may be the solution for some, other disengaged employees resist change and are unwilling to take on new roles or extra work. Change is essential to any company who wants to keep up with the market, let alone grow and dominate. However disengaged employees who are staunchly resistant to change can sabotage your company’s ability to seize new opportunities. Resistance to change comes from a fear of the unknown and accepting change follows a clearly identifiable life cycle. At Team building Asia we have a training program focusing on dealing with change, that acknowledges all the fears of your team, ultimately leading them to acceptance.

5. A lack of innovation

A team that resists change is unlikely to be innovative and innovation is the lifeblood of modern organisations. A lack of innovation primarily comes from a lack of confidence that ideas will be appreciated. A manager that encourages good ideas will be inundated with them, one that laughs at people suggestions, encourages them but never does anything with them or actively discourages them (the type of manager that seems constantly bothered by his/her employees) is poison to an organization.

Employees in sales or customer service positions, on the front line often have ideas about how to improve processes to improve customer satisfaction. These ideas should be listened to. Managers need training and team building just as much as the rest of the team, if not more. If a manager is consistently undermining his or her staff despite team building and training, you must let them go. They are stifling members of your team who could be doing great things for your company.

You can turn your disengaged workforce into engaged superstars

Lack of engagement in a team could be an anomaly or it could be an organization wide affliction costing you millions in productivity. The good news is, most people do not want to be disengaged in their jobs. They want to work in an environment that is supportive, challenging and encourages personal and professional growth. You have the potential to provide a culture to encourage engagement. Check out our tips on how to increase employee engagement and turn our company around.

Stuart Harris

Co-Founder and Managing Director at Team Building Asia

Stuart Harris has built team Team Building Asia into Asia's most prestigious and effective team building company.


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