Today’s labor market is the tightest in decades. And with millions of job openings across the nation, companies of all sizes are finding it difficult to attract and hang on to the talent they need. The quest for qualified staff is only expected to intensify going forward, leading experts to predict that business owners will have to ramp up their efforts to retain a solid and reliable workforce.
Why Your Business Needs Engaged Employees
Attracting the right employees is crucial, but meeting their ongoing needs post-hire is equally important. Unfortunately, despite the fact that high engagement levels are essential for high performance, statistics confirm that more than two-thirds of today’s employees are disengaged in the workplace.
Infusing your star performers with enthusiasm is key. Why? Because believing they make a difference to your company not only gives talented people a reason to stay, it’s been shown that motivated employees serve as positive growth models for everyone else.
Engaged personnel strive to be at their best every day, and by doing so, they inspire those around them to work harder. Like ripples on a pond, their positive energy can quickly spread to boost the performance level of your team as a whole.
When the Lights Go Down on Great Talent
Even if you’re unfamiliar with the term brownout, you may well have witnessed its effects. In electrical terms, a brownout refers to a voltage drop that can cause lights to flicker and dim. In business terms, it describes that once brilliantly shining employee who has gradually disengaged from the workplace.
Brownout is insidious. And in many cases, it’s only recognizable after a formerly great talent grows disinterested, demotivated, and disheartened by their job. Some of the most common causes of employee brownout include:
- a lack of advancement prospects in the workplace,
- feeling stifled or unchallenged by one’s professional role, and
- not being given appropriate opportunities to showcase one’s potential
So, what can your business do to prevent this kind of disengagement and hang on to the people who make your organization tick?
It all comes down to taking responsibility as a leader and recognizing that talented employees need to know they matter, that the work they do is relevant and impactful, and that they’re contributing to the progress of the company they work for.
Tips to Keep Your Workforce Engaged
Some small business owners are so focused on what they do that they forget to acknowledge the people responsible for helping them achieve their success. When it comes to providing context, fun, and incentive, many managers struggle to demonstrate good leadership skills.
Model the Bigger Picture
Security and financial stability are important to job satisfaction, but your employees need more than that if they’re going to remain engaged and productive. One of the biggest mistakes business owners make is failing to clarify their big picture thinking.
The reason star employees are so effective is because they care deeply about the work that they do. But to continue to care over the long term, they need to know what they’re doing has purpose. Make sure you communicate the context behind work roles and assignments, so staff can make meaningful connections between execution and outcome.
Let Loose a Little
All work and no play is a proven recipe for decreased performance and brownout. Fortunately, you need look no further than companies like Google for an example of how relating to the human side of your workforce pays dividends in productivity.
Studies have shown that both employee engagement and initiative increase in workplace cultures that encourage:
- participation in fun activities,
- co-worker socialization, and
- managerial support of fun
In fact, research suggests that happy employees are 12% more productive on the job! So, if your team isn’t having fun at work, it might be time to reconsider your approach to employee engagement.
Reward Great Performance
The best employees are intrinsically motivated, and there’s nothing they like better than having their accomplishments acknowledged. People who work hard want to know their efforts aren’t going unnoticed. So, one of the best things you can do for these employees is discover what makes them feel good, and reward them accordingly.
At the same time, it’s important to accept that your staff are not your children. Treating them equally only does your company – and your finest employees - a disservice, since:
- A lack of consequences for poor performance tells indifferent staff members it’s okay not to try too hard
- Failure to reward motivated personnel tells them that - no matter how hard they work - they’ll always be viewed as equal to the employees who simply show up for a paycheck
Remember, good people don’t typically leave good jobs – they leave poor managers and toxic business environments. The very best way to hang on to great talent is to invest in becoming an equally talented leader.