While this year has been an improvement for many businesses over the dismal 2008 and 2009 years we’d all like to forget, economic recovery has remained slow. And, leading economists expect that growth to remain modest through 2011, a difficult forecast for many employers and their employees who’ve struggled to stay afloat under the weight of increasingly heavier workloads and high stress levels.
We’ve all felt – to put it mildly – the pinch of the recession. Companies have faced pay cuts, job losses, and financial issues. While some individuals have adjusted to an increase in their workload, others are still struggling to survive. It has impacted employee morale, loyalty, engagement, and more. When employees feel overworked and underpaid, relationships with their managers can also suffer. And, the strain on workers is likely to continue in 2011 with businesses still reluctant to hire and salaries projected to increase by only 2.5 percent in 2011, according to the Conference Board, a global, independent research association.
Why Employee Engagement Matters
Employee commitment is imperative to not only company productivity, but to the quality of work completed. It affects profitability, helps with top-talent retention, and is even linked to fewer safety incidents in the workplace. Employees who are engaged and committed to your company are invested in the success of your business. So, it’s important to know where your team stands.
With fires to put out, innovations to dream up, and deadlines to meet, all while staying under budget, it may be hard to take time to assess the current reality of your company. But, with 2011 just around the corner, now may be the perfect time to do just that, because can you really afford to wait for the economy to bounce back before your employee engagement improves?
This new year, take a good look at where you and the members of your team stand. While employee surveys are great ways to gauge employee satisfaction, you can also look for these five signs it’s time to do some damage control to get your team back on track.
Five Tell-Tale Signs
1. Tempers are running high. Frustration and stress can strain our relationships with co-workers and the way we communicate with them. And, when you work closely with others, tempers often reach a boiling point fast. If you find you or your colleagues encounter conflict more often, it may just be a reaction to workplace frustrations or stress.
Maybe it isn’t your employees who are frustrated. Maybe it’s you. If your patience is slipping more and more, take a step back and examine the situation, because losing your temper or getting defensive with your team will only have a negative impact on employee engagement. You and your employees need to take breaks from time to time to get away from it all. You can also encourage harmony in the office with team building exercises. The sky’s the limit on ways to keep attitudes in check, so find effective ways your team can relieve stress because hot tempers can lead to disastrous consequences.
2. Absenteeism has increased. When an employee is absent more often than usual, it could be a sign of stress. Whether they just don’t feel like coming in or they’re actually getting sick, stress can impact the health and wellbeing of your entire team. Stress has been linked to high blood pressure and even lowers immunities that help fight off germs and illnesses. And, when one employee is absent, it can add more stress to the rest of the team.
If your team members are absent more often than usual, find ways to address issues like anxiety and stress. How can you help relieve some of the tension? Every step you can take to help lighten the load is a step in the right direction.
3. Mistakes occur more often. Employees who are struggling with commitment may have trouble focusing on the tasks at hand, and that can lead to costly mistakes. If the quality of an employee’s work has continually suffered, have a private discussion with them to get to the root of the problem. Has their workload increased? Are they taking on more than they can handle? Maybe you need to have a discussion about your expectations. Tough conversations can be awkward, but they can also be the best start to repairing the damage and opening the lines of communication.
4. Productivity is down. With employee absences and mistakes occurring more often, productivity is likely to suffer and that can impact your bottom line. Fast-paced, high stress environments can take their toll on employees. If your team’s productivity is starting to wane, look for things you can cut out or consider using flexible staffing to help relieve some of the workload.
5. Turnover is on the rise. The final sign that it may be time to concentrate on damage control is turnover. Turnover is not only costly for businesses, it also compounds the problems that already exist by creating more work for the employees who are left behind, not to mention the added strain of finding and training a replacement. Turnover is like a revolving door employees exit from. Employees reach their limit of frustration and job hop, leaving others to carry the load, who then in turn reach their limit of frustration and also job hop, and around and around the door goes.
Where to go from here?
Once you’ve diagnosed whether or not damage control is in order, make sure you truly understand the issues to determine the appropriate cure. This coming year, each and every day, you have the opportunity to lead your team to success, so look for ways you can help change your workplace for the better with or without the economy’s help.