Four Reasons for Low Employee Engagement Rates and How to Improve It
“When people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute.” - Simon Sinek
How many employees, would you say are invested in your company's mission and want to contribute?
If the count is not impressive, don't worry. You are not alone.
The State of Global Workplace 2022 report by Gallup, states that ONLY 21% of the employees globally are engaged at work. Around 80% of the total workforce is disengaged at the workplace. The number of employees who are quiet quitting is also on the rise. This means that employees are doing the bare minimum amount of effort required for their jobs. As a result various employers are looking to develop effective employee engagement strategies and conduct employee engagement surveys.
It is worthwhile to dig into the issue and understand the reasons behind low rates of employee engagement. There are various reasons for this disengagement at work.
Four crucial reasons why employees are disengaged in the workplace
1. Not feeling recognized
Imagine that you are giving your best performance at the workplace. You are doing the things expected of you as well as going the extra mile and taking more efforts to ensure that things run smoothly and have impact. How would you feel if no one recognized your efforts? Or worse they praised someone else who took credit for your work. Would you feel like continuing your efforts?
This is what the lack of recognition does to employees. If their hard work and efforts go unnoticed by the management it results in low morale and it dissuades them from investing more efforts at work. In a study employees were asked how a manager can support them in the best way possible and around 37% of the employees said by providing more recognition.
When it comes to recognition, employees just want to be seen and heard. It is not about just saying "good job!". It is about actually taking time to describe how the person helped the team and recognizing these efforts publicly. Yeah, it does take effort for the manager's end to notice and appreciate the employees' work, but it pays off in the end.
ACTION STEP - Build a culture of recognition. It is possible that the manager or team leader might not be able to notice the hard work behind every single employee, in that case peer to peer recognition also works. Encouraging employees to appreciate each other in an authentic way will help to build a culture of recognition.
“Research indicates that workers have three prime needs: Interesting work, recognition for doing a good job, and being let in on things that are going on in the company.” - Zig Ziglar
2. Lack of opportunities for development
Employees join a company hoping that they would be able to develop and expand their skillset. Employees who feel they have opportunities for growth are more likely to be motivated and engaged at work. When it comes to giving challenging projects to employees, it is not enough to just assign a project and let them figure out the rest. Leaders need to empower employees to work on challenging projects. This would in turn, increase their confidence and help them in career advancement.
This is especially important for GenZs who might be freshers seeking corporate exposure and experience. There are certain skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking, and effective communication which can be learnt only through challenging projects and proper guidance at the workplace.
Senior employees also need to learn new skills and stay updated with the current trends in the market. This knowledge will help them in their career advancement and get the recognition they deserve.
In a survey conducted by LinkedIn, the results showed that 94% of the employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their career development.
ACTION STEP - Offer training and development programs that help employees acquire new skills and knowledge. Provide opportunities for employees to attend conferences, seminars, or workshops that are relevant to their work and even for things outside work.
Provide coaching and mentoring programs that help employees develop their expertise. Pair employees with mentors who have experience in their field and can provide guidance and support.
3. Not prioritizing well-being
There are times when work feels challenging and overwhelming. When employees are constantly overwhelmed with too much work, they can experience burnout. The organisation needs to have rituals in place that prevent this from happening.
There could be multiple reasons for burnout including increase in workload, a feeling of lack of control, little or no support provided by the leaders, misalignment of values. Too much pressure to be "productive" can backfire and lead to employees experiencing burnout.
One study found that as per February 2021, the burnout rates among Millennials were (59%), Gen Z (58%), and
Gen X (54%), whereas Baby Boomers (31%) had significantly lower rates.
The same study also found that more than 50% of women in leadership positions consistently feel burned out. Speaking of working parents, 47% of working mothers and 38% of working fathers are often burned out.
In such cases, providing flexible working hours and mental health assistance programs could be helpful.
ACTION STEP - Organizations can offer flexible work arrangements, such as remote work or flexible hours, to help
employees achieve a work-life balance.
Encourage open communication and feedback from employees to create a positive work environment and address any concerns that may impact employee well-being.
4. Feeling disconnected from colleagues at work
There are many sources for cultivating meaning at work, some of which include - understanding the positive impact of your work, building positive relationships, working on challenging projects and developing skills, appreciation and acknowledgement at work, etc.
Which factor among these contributes the most to finding meaningful at the workplace?
Well, the answer is subjective to every person. But research shows that among other factors that contribute to meaning at work, relationships at work have the most impact. This does not really come as a surprise. Considering the fact that we spend so much time of our day working in the office, the relations developed with colleagues at work have a significant impact on how we view the workplace environment.
Gallup's Q12 survey on employee engagement created a breakthrough in the market by adding a question about friendships at the workplace. Some people were wondering the connection between having a best friend at work and an increase in the rates of employee engagement. The survey however showed a strong correlation between having a good friend at work and being engaged at the workplace.
Employees without social connections in the workplace may feel like they don't belong or that their contributions are not valued. This can lead to a decreased sense of engagement and commitment to the organization, which can negatively impact their productivity and performance. Without a st
rong social connection, they may struggle to communicate openly and honestly with their coworkers, leading to misunderstandings or missed opportunities for collaboration.
ACTION STEP - Create opportunities where employees can socialize and get to know each other. Encourage employees to share their unique perspectives and ideas, and facilitate conversations that help break down barriers and build relationships.
Celebrate team successes and milestones, and recognize individual achievements. This will strengthen the bond amon
"Motivation comes from working on things we care about. It also comes from working with people we care about.” – Sheryl Sandberg
The right time to get Employee Engagement scores up is now
There are various aspects that are covered under the broad umbrella term - employee engagement. Employee engagement can be influenced by a range of factors, including opportunities for growth and development, recognition and reward for contributions, a supportive work environment, good relations with colleagues, and a sense of purpose and meaning in their work. Employers can take steps to promote engagement by providing these factors, and by creating a workplace culture that values and prioritizes employee well-being and success.