Employees’ discretionary effort’ has fallen significantly in the last quarter, according to CEB’s quarterly Global Talent Monitor report.
That means that now less than two employees in 10 is going the extra mile, helping their colleagues with tasks, putting themselves forward for extra work or looking for ways to improve how they do their jobs.
This situation presents a major challenge for managers and HR professionals who need to address this issue before it gets worse.
The reality of the recession meant that many organisations were, and still are, trying to do more with fewer people. But now as the economy improves and jobs become available people are less worried about losing their jobs, and employee engagement levels are falling resulting in dropping productivity.
What can managers and HR professionals do?
If you’re looking for ideas to help improve employee engagement, morale and productivity here are five things you can do:
1. Recognise and reward employees
Recognition is proven to improve someone’s willingness to help or go the extra mile by 100% but it’s sometimes underestimated: anticipating being recognised is a key motivational factor.
Reward employees with something that serves as a permanent reminder of their achievement, even if you are giving them vouchers so they can choose their own reward give the a certificate or plaque. And by recognising employees for their accomplishments in front of colleagues and peers you can motivate everyone to work harder.
2. Offer flexible working hours and/or locations
With younger generations entering the workforce there is a sense that flexible working policies are seen as the norm, rather than the exception. And as a result, many employers now offer flexible working as an employee benefit.
Flexible working policies help employees achieve a better work-life balance, but that work-life balance is individual to each employee. Managers need to discuss flexible working options with their employees to find a solution that meets both the needs of the individual and the employer. Technology has played a significant role in helping employees stay connected, so make sure your employees have the tools they need to do their job as part of your flexible working policy.
3. Provide regular and meaningful feedback
Feedback on how employees are performing within their role not only addresses areas for improvement and builds self-esteem but also contributes to improving self-motivation and productivity.
Providing feedback to employees is an essential management skill, and sadly one that some managers lack. HR professionals need to ensure managers are trained in giving feedback in a constructive and non-judgmental way, and that feedback happens on a consistent basis and not just when it’s time for performance reviews.
4. Ensure clear communication at all levels of the organisation
Clear communication from the top down helps engage employees in the business and its mission, and, therefore, improves motivation and employee performance.
Employees are human beings and prefer sincere dialogue rather than management speak and gimmicks. Senior leaders need to ensure that they are sharing the organisation’s goals, values, vision, opportunities, and challenges with their management team so they can share them with their teams. Two-way communication should also be encouraged, ask employees for their thoughts and ideas.
5. Help them with their career aspirations
Many managers worry that if they help employees with their career goals and personal development they will lose their employees. While they may leave if promotion opportunities aren’t available, they will definitely leave if their development is ignored.
Managers should discuss career aspirations and goals with their employees to understand them, and then together they can prepare a development plan to help their employee achieve their objectives. This plan could include training courses, professional development membership, mentoring, secondments or on-the-job training.
Implementing strategies to keep employees motivated, engaged and productive is good business sense. By having a happy, satisfied and productive workforce organisations gain a competitive advantage and retain employees.