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February 27, 2023

The Engagement is Back On!

employees that are engaged and creating a positive work environment

How leaders are bringing back and amplifying employee engagement.

An in-depth research study by Gallup found for three straight years, employee engagement is still trending down. Today engagement ranks at its lowest since 2013 after it set a record high in 2019. A disengaged workforce produces less and costs more than one that keeps its employees excited and committed. The truth is, employees, don’t want to sleepwalk through their workday. They want to spend those hours enjoying what they do and working for something of value. Chances are if a manager senses an employee may be “quiet quitting” they’re not a lost cause. Disengaged employees and those on the fringe need their manager’s help to feel more invested.

Here are a few ways managers can point the engagement index back in the right direction for the people on their teams.

Diagnose Accurately

Today’s workforce operates with its own set of unique challenges that dampen employees’ attitudes. Many people still feel burnt out and spread thin for too long. Market uncertainty persists and everyday purchases cost more, companies are laying off workers and restructuring to stay viable. These environmental factors can affect employees’ engagement and productivity.

But, managers can take heart in knowing these sobering circumstances don’t directly cause a workforce to check out. Instead, they work as catalysts that irritate the root causes of employee disengagement which remain consistent indicators over time and across different economies. Managers can look past the drama of the current influencers to find the real problems which are entirely within their control to resolve. 

Gallup data revealed five elements of engagement that declined the most over 2021 and 2022:

  • clarity of expectations
  • connection to the mission or purpose of the company
  • opportunities to learn and grow
  • opportunities to do what employees do best
  • feeling cared about at work 

    Understand that people deal with stress in different ways. Some team members talk more openly and enthusiastically because they have an extrovert communication style. Others are introverts. They may need to digest new information and contemplate how they will solve problems. There may be someone on the team who’s facing a personal challenge brought on by the current social and economic instability, but that doesn’t mean they’re not into their jobs anymore.

    Managers should make sure they’re using accurate indicators to evaluate their team’s commitment. Managers that truly want to address the root of a fizzling team need to check in with their people. Here are a few ways to try with your team:
    – Have a meeting about what excites them. 

    – Ask them when they last felt engaged and energized at work. 

    – Ask what you can do differently to help them buy-in. 

    Once a manager has the correct problem identified, they can find a solution more quickly.

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    Be The Change YOU Want To See

    Team leaders’ emotions are highly contagious. Managers and people in power positions strongly affect the mental set of less senior employees. The more powerful the person is, the more contagious their emotional disposition. Managers can sometimes unconsciously set the opposite tone for what they wish to correct. They can focus so much on the problem of a pervasive negative attitude among their team and possibly the teams’ underperformance that correlates, that they end up reflecting that emotional state to the team and create a downward spiral. 

    Managers should keep in mind how powerfully their mindset affects their team’s performance and outlook. They make tough decisions and carry a lot of responsibility, but one of the most important responsibilities is building team morale. Managers should strive to bring their best selves to work, no matter what’s on their to-do list, and to reflect in their persona the desirable character their team wants to be. 

    • Use positive messaging and tone of voice. Flip negative imagery to a more positive one. 
    • Show concern for your people. An employee engagement platform can help to scale your emotional intelligence and employee support. 
    • Give employees the freedom to collaborate and improve on the status quo. 

    Even though the company may be undergoing changes and trying to compete in a tight market, the leader can still represent to the team the desirable character it takes to persevere through these challenges. They can be positive, caring, open-minded, and driven. This will set the stage for higher energy on the team.

    Tips To Manage Through Uncertainty
    How To Deal With Change Fatigue
    Adapting To New Management
    Managing Through Layoffs 

    Help Teams Get Clear

    Teams more than ever need clarity. They need to understand:

    • their purpose at work, 
    • their manager’s expectations, 
    • their team’s expectations of them, 
    • the roles and responsibilities that others on their team have, and 
    • the opportunities available to grow and do their best work. 

    Tips For People Managers
    Keep Team Confidence Amid Layoffs And Restructuring

    Team Charter

    Leaders can usher in more clarity on teams with the help of a team charter. A team charter includes a mission statement and set of beliefs authored by all the team members. The team collectively forms their understanding of the team’s purpose, so they’re super clear on why it exists. That becomes the center of everything the team does. Team charter with this level of clarity help team members:

    • connect to the mission of the company on difficult days along with great ones 
    • understand the roles and responsibilities that each member has
    • respect and leverage each other’s expertise
    • understand the team’s norms and ground rules
    • Individuals know what’s expected of them with no guesswork 

    The team charter can help managers and team members alike address potential issues before they become a problem. It’s a living document that members can amend when needed. 
    It’s possible that unintentionally the team leader has created a culture where coasting feels ok. It’s never too late to turn things around. The leader can start by asking their team what they think should be expected of them. Then they should have the team hold themselves accountable. The result will be a team that feels fulfilled at work.

    In Closing 

    Leaders can succeed at engaging their teams and can even give everyone a say in how it happens. The key is to focus on the people first while equipping them to effectively address your marketplace strategies. It’s ok to course-correct on the way to excellence. An engaged team will get there in due time.

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