Your Disengaged Workforce Is Heading for the Door

Are your employees actively engaged in their jobs? If data from a recent CareerBuilder study is any indication, there’s a good chance they’re not. The survey of employees across multiple industries in both the U.S. and Canada showed that 69% percent of full-time workers “regularly search for new job opportunities” and 53% say “they feel like they just have a job, not a career.” A 2011 study by Towers Watson touched on a similar trend and found that of the workers who participated in the study, 74% didn’t believe they had long-term opportunities, 80% weren’t satisfied with their recognition, and 66% said management didn’t do a good job of communicating – all major contributors of employee disengagement.

No company is immune to disengaged workers. And the cost of disengagement can be extensive. From lost productivity to low morale, it’s in a company’s best interest to play an active role in building a healthy work environment; otherwise, it’s only a matter of time before even your most dedicated workers start seeking other options.

Today, It’s Easier than Ever to Search New Job Opportunities
The CareerBuilder survey went on to ask participants how they were looking for new job opportunities. Not surprisingly in the internet age, 74% are searching online followed by 68% through traditional networking, and 67% are on job boards.

Even more worrisome for employers, however, is that not only are employees seeking new job opportunities, but new job opportunities are also seeking them. According to research by Bullhorn Reach, a social recruiting software developer, 98% of recruiters use LinkedIn to reach candidates, 42% are on Twitter, and 33% utilize Facebook for recruiting top talent.

So, how do you help keep them engaged?

Recognition
Often more important than compensation, employee recognition is an important driver of workforce engagement. Everyone wants to know their hard work and dedication isn’t going unnoticed – it’s difficult for even top performing employees to stay motivated if they start to believe the work they’re doing won’t matter in the long run. And while there are a wide variety of methods to give recognition – from bonuses to a hand-written notes – the important part is to be consistent and ensure that employee accomplishments receive all the accolades they deserve. 

Career Pathing
Mark Twain once said, “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you too can become great.” Not only do employees want to know that their job is important, they need to know that you have a vested interest in their success. Helping an employee define their career path goes a long way toward building engagement. It lets them know what they are working for and what they can achieve if they focus on their goals and maintain productivity. The path doesn’t necessarily have to lead to the C-suite, but it needs to show forward momentum. And most importantly, as a leader you need to be committed to honor the plan as the employee reaches each milestone.  

Compensation and Rewards
While recognition or career pathing are often cited as being more important to job satisfaction, compensation and rewards still play a major role in building employee engagement. Bottom line, people work to support their lives outside the office; so if your employees aren’t being fairly compensated for the work they do, they are not going to be committed to the success of the company and will start to look for greener pastures. Continually analyzing your salary structure to ensure you are staying competitive with other companies in your market is a vital part of building an effective compensation plan. And it’s important to make that process as transparent as possible by communicating to employees about the trends and what they can expect.

Employee engagement is a hot topic in human resources these days. From residual effects of the last recession to our current economic concerns, business leaders have a lot to contend with when it comes to workforce management. However, those companies that make an investment in building a positive working environment where employees come to work not for what they get, but rather for what they give to the company’s success stand the best chance of staying productive and weathering future storms.

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