Is the Engagement Spark Gone in Your Workforce?

Have you noticed that the passion you once saw in your workers is fading, or completely burned out? The blame game isn’t fun, but let’s just say that most of the time, it isn’t their fault. Organizations will go to great lengths to source and attract great talent, but then their efforts to impress will often come to a halt before the ink on the I-9 is even dry. Leaders are quickly realizing that retention efforts are just as important, if not more, than attraction.

So how can employers fan the flame and keep their workers as passionate about the brand and vision of the company as they once were?

Onboarding is a Must

Onboarding is a very often-overlooked piece of the engagement puzzle. This is the opportunity for leaders to set the bar high and establish great expectations, but it’s also an opportunity to immediately devalue and demotivate the newest members of the team.

Leadership expert and NY Times contributor Bryan Burkhart makes a few suggestions about successful onboarding in, “Getting New Employees Off to a Good Start”:

  • Thoughtfully craft a welcoming office environment that the new member will be walking into.
  • Offer an employee handbook that employees will actually want to read. Be informative, but use language that makes the content interesting. You can also try offering the handbook in digital form.
  • Start the onboarding process before their first day by sending a welcome packet that supplies them with all the necessary information that they will need when they come into the office, and throw in some goodies and swag.
  • Have a mentor or guide assigned to the new employee on their first day.
  • It helps to have new employees start together.
  • Give them some social time to get to know their new team.

Feedback

Firstly, feedback from the onboarding process is vital. So be sure to have a standard onboarding survey that all new employees can take after their onboarding is complete. Remember though that soliciting and giving feedback must be a continuous and tailored process in order to be effective.

If employees who have lost their spark end up sticking around, which will very often happen, you can bet their spark isn’t the only thing that has faded; motivation and productivity will usually take a nose-dive. Research shows that the average worker works at only about 50% of their capacity. When we consider that only 13% of the population globally is engaged at work, that’s really not surprising.

The two-way dialogue that genuine and continuous feedback creates not only shows employees that they and their opinions are valued, it grants leaders the opportunity to correct issues and praise successes in real-time, when it matters most and can be most effective in fostering engagement and motivation.

Genuine and Respectful Communication

All the surveys, feedback and suggestions boxes in the world won’t replace a caring leader. Have you ever gone to a manager or HR professional with an issue, or even just a discussion and were promptly told to send it in an email or to address it with someone else? Passing the buck and showing disinterest will demotivate an employee faster than you can say “Farmville”.  People can smell disingenuousness a mile away.

“In today’s culture, where so much emphasis is placed on the superficial, people crave authenticity. Employees today are hungry for real what-you-see-is-what-you-get leadership.  The most inspiring and influential leaders therefore don’t lead because of what they do (though they do plenty), but because of who they are. Too often leaders and those who aspire to be, forget that.” – Workplace Leadership Expert, Margie Warrell

Recognition

Recognition is one of the strongest and easiest ways to motivate and engage employees. Even if the fireworks fizzled long ago, recognition, rewards and proof of value can light a fire under employees. Employees who work in an environment with strong recognition report feeling a 46% stronger connection to the organization than their counterparts who work in weak employee recognition environments. They also experience 45% higher drive and determination.

The average worker won’t sustain their own motivation and connection with the organization, unless guided and encouraged. Leaders must set up the right processes, open the lines of communication and work at genuine leadership in order to keep the flame lit.

(About the Author: A life, career and business coach with over a decade of leadership experience. Melissa Dawn Photiades has led teams in companies ranging from travel to fundraising to small business apps.  One of Melissa’s clients is Herd Wisdom, a company that has developed an app that helps incorporate employee engagement as part of a corporate culture.)

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photo credit: Ben K Adams via photopin cc

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