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How to engage disengaged employees

A short guide to "How to Engage Disengaged Employees", brought to you by www.getvetter.com/blog

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How to engage disengaged employees

  1. 1. How to engage disengaged employees – a short guide Contents: 1. The 7 Key behaviors of highly Disengaged Employees 2. The damage & cost of Disengaged Employees 3. A highly engaged workforce (What does success look like?) 4. Turning around Disengaged Employees - techniques & tools 5. Take one small step today
  2. 2. 1. The 7 Key behaviors of highly Disengaged Employees Howdy, I’m Duncan, the founder of Vetter. In this Guide I’m going to show you how to re-engage employees who have checked out, who don’t care anymore, who are disengaged. The first step is to recognize these people, to spot them. Then we can re-engage them and turn the situation around. The 7 Key behaviors of highly Disengaged Employees 1) Doing what’s needed and no more: No enthusiasm for the job. They protect their turf and are careful not to let any extra work land on their plates. They have stopped learning and trying to learn. 2) Noticeable attitude change: This shows itself in two main ways a) a previously quiet employee now becomes much more vocal, particular with complaints; or b) a previously involved and upbeat employee withdraws from out-of-work activities, reduces water cooler chats, speaks up much less in meetings. 3) Mistakes start appearing: In the past their work was pretty flawless. Now it needs to be checked every time, as mistakes have started creeping in. Unless there is something up with their health, they may have 'turned' and have 'checked out' of their job. 4) Finishing time is finishing time! Most employees target leaving work sometime between a few minutes after their official finishing time, or a few hours. The Walking Paid target leaving work 0-60
  3. 3. seconds after their official finishing time. No point sticking around, even if it’s a busy period! This could be a cry for attention, they’re doing it in the hope that you notice, either to spite you or in the hope that you’ll fix the problem. Again, we’ll cover more of this in the next section. 5) Complaints disappear – They used to care about too many ‘Reply All’ emails or the shoddy work a co-worker does. They don’t any more. They’ve given up, maybe because they feel powerless or maybe because it doesn’t matter to them any more, they’ve checked out. 6) Increased time online: If you are in the same location, try taking regular strolls by their cubicle or office. You’ll find out if they are online a lot and also give them a little warning sign that you are aware of their behavior. This itself might change their attitude a little, but we’ll cover more of this on in the next section. 7) Openly cynical about everything, particularly management – Big office Christmas party….. “What a waste of money, it’s a pity they don’t use the money to give us overdue pay raises”. Small office Christmas party…. “They are so stingy, obviously saving money for new company cars in January”.
  4. 4. 2. The damage & cost of Disengaged Employees In the last section we looked at how to recognize Disengaged Employees by watching for 7 key behaviors. This time we’re going to look at the damage and costs created by these lost souls. I want you to be clear - this is a big problem in organizations today. I'm approaching the issue with a certain amount of humor, but this is a serious problem, have not doubt about that. Prepare yourself for a huge number…. According to the Gallup report “Engagement at Work: Its Effect on Performance Continues in Tough Economic Times”, workers who are disengaged cost organizations between $450-550 billion in lost productivity. If you’re like me, you might scratch your head and wonder where that number came from. Let’s look at the impact in more detail… Gallup found that compared to the bottom 25% of companies, the top 25% of companies (in terms of employee engagement) had:  37% lower absenteeism.  65% lower turnover (in low-turnover organizations)  48% fewer safety incidents  22% higher profitability
  5. 5. A pretty tangible impact right? Something worth trying to fix? For sure! One more thing - maybe at this point it might make sense to look around you and see if you can spot a highly Disengaged Employee employee. Is that employee a former star? If so, then they might be about to leave and you need to prepare for that. Remember that keeping an employee and turning them around, rather than seeing them leave, can save the equivalent of 20% of that worker’s salary (source). That adds up! In the next section we'll look at 3 high-engagement level organizations and what made them that way.
  6. 6. 3. A highly engaged workforce (What does success look like?) So far, I’ve been pretty negative so far in our email course. That’s about to change! In this section, we’ll get into HOW you can turn around your disengaged colleagues and rapidly start improving engagement levels in your organizations. Before that though, we’ll look at 3 high- engagement level organizations and what made them that way: Campbell’s Soup - a company wide turnaround In 2001 Campbell’s was being referred to as a ‘beleaguered old brand’ and then Douglas Conant took over as CEO. All that has changed and a re-engaged workforce has been central to it. As Conant himself said ““To win in the marketplace, we believe you must first win in the workplace. I’m obsessed with keeping employee engagement front and center and keeping up energy around it.” The data backs up Conant’s statement – Gallup polled Campbell's managers in 2002 and found that just 26% were 'Actively engaged', only 2.2x the number who were 'Actively disengaged'. Jump to present day and 23 times as many Campbell managers are 'Actively engaged' as are 'Actively disengaged'. Gallup’s considers a ratio of 12x to be world class, and Campbell’s in now nearly twice that. What a turnaround!
  7. 7. Conant achieved all this from a combination of 1) publicly recognizing and showing appreciation for individual employees “I send out about 20 thank-you notes a day to staffers, on all levels”; 2) having lunch with batches of 12 employees to get ‘their perspective on the business, address problems and get feedback’; 2) replacing 300 of the company’s 350 leaders in the first three years; 3) surveying staff each year and publicly committing to valuing Campbell’s employees. Asked what the biggest benefit from increasing engagement has been, Conant said “Besides our improved financial and market performance, the biggest benefit has been the revitalization of our whole culture.” Freshields Bruckhaus Deringer Lawyers Like many of its direct competitors, retention of talent was becoming a significant issue for the firm. Freshields supports successful graduate candidates for legal posts through one or two years of further training before they join the organization. During this period, the individuals generate no income revenue, with the break-even point on Freshields’ investment coming at around two years after qualification. Freshields were finding that despite joining with high levels of commitment and energy, after around four years an unacceptably high proportion of staff were choosing to leave. From talking to staff, Freshields realized that many felt that while they were valued for their technical competence as lawyers they didn’t have as much opportunity as they would have liked to get involved in the broader development of the firm’s business. Freshields addressed this by introducing a number of measures, including creating the Associate Engagement Group (AEG) which gives associate lawyers a greater say in decisions that impact them. The group acts as an information and consultation conduit between the partnership and the associates. It is now in its third year and continues to gain prominence. Recent market conditions have obviously had an important impact on staff retention, but Freshields have seen improved metrics in employee engagement since they introduced the AEG. Saks Fifth Avenue At Saks in New York, management decided to measure employee engagement and customer engagement at stores, with customer engagement including willingness to make repeat purchases and recommend the store to friends. “We used both to pinpoint problem spots,” said Vice President Jay Redman. Saks found that “there absolutely is a correlation between employee engagement and customer engagement” and that customer engagement creates loyal, repeat customers and increased sales.
  8. 8. “We’ve seen 20 to 25 percent improvement in stores with great engagement,” he says. But it’s not just about higher sales figures. “How you get there is important.” There’s been a major change in the nature of the dialog between management and the sales force, says Redman. Saks makes a point about asking employees what they need to do their jobs. Every time there is an initiative resulting from such dialog—for example, a flextime program was implemented recently, and many computers were upgraded—managers make sure to remind workers that this resulted from their suggestions. “We’ve probably done 100 things over three years” in response to survey results, says Redman. “Some are as simple as opening a stairwell after people said they used to wait five to 10 minutes to go by elevator between floors” in a store. A key message from Saks management to employees is that the dialog is intended to be a permanent feature. Bravo! we say. Doesn’t that give you plenty to think about? Tune in tomorrow and I’ll tell you HOW you can rapidly start improving engagement levels in your organizations. Here’s a teaser to keep you going…it’s our friend Doug Conant of Campbell Soup again, identifying four strategies that he used to inspire an employee engagement turnaround during his tenure there: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9buGE_vKxcc
  9. 9. 4. Turning around Disengaged Employees - techniques & tools So we've looked at how to spot Disengaged Employees by their behavior and we've examined the damage that they can cause. In the previous section, we gazed longingly at three organizations overflowing with engaged employees. Now I’d like to explore some techniques and tools to make that happen where you work.. Through our wider readings and our experience talking with customers (at Vetter - our employee suggestion box software), we've found 5 key techniques and tools that consistently boost employee engagement: 1. Measure the state of Engagement at your organization: Famed management guru Peter Drucker said “What gets measure gets managed”. Measuring the current state enables you to better assess what works and what doesn’t as you work to boost engagement. All you need to accomplish this is a simple employee survey tool such as SurveyGizmo and 3 simple questions: 1) Do you find your work here meaningful? 2) Do you feel valued by your manager? and 3) Are you proud of what you do here? That will provide a benchmark that you can track your progress against. 2. Listen to and act on employees’ ideas: Ask and you shall receive. Some employees are overflowing with ideas to help the business and are just waiting to be asked. Others can build on their colleague’s ideas and are more likely get behind a project if they are there right at conception. This is self-serving, but the fastest, most straight forward way to give employee engagement an immediate boost is to start using on online suggestion box tool such as Vetter (www.getvetter.com – my company).
  10. 10. 3. Keep employees informed on the bigger picture: Every Friday, on the top floor of its San Francisco offices, Twitter holds ‘all hands’ meetings. This provides a fixed, regular update session where employees know they can hear about the latest news. Not all companies can have these kinds of meetings, but perhaps your company could set up something simple like a weekly update email from senior management? When an employee knows how their small piece fits into the bigger strategy, they’ll feel more motivated to succeed. Harvard Business School’s Rosabeth Moss Kanter puts it well “If you want everyone to be on the same page, put the page in front of them conveniently and often.” 4. Say thanks – recognize their contribution: When is the last time you heard a manager sincerely thank an employee for their contribution? I don’t mean ‘thanks’ when signing off an email, I mean a look-them-in-the-eye and sincerely say ‘thank-you’ kind of thanks? I would guess you can’t remember. In addition to a verbal thanks, here are a variety of creative ways that companies whose appreciation to their employees: link 5. Support camaraderie: In a 2012 SHRM study, ‘Relationship with co-workers’ was rated the second most important factor related to an employee's level of engagement with their organization. A simple way to boost camaraderie and one of the first changes I made when I got promoted to managing a team in my younger years – was to introduce monthly team lunches. The very act of leaving the workplace (a morale booster in itself) and sitting and chatting together can have a magical effect that lingers for days after. 6. Extreme measures – when Disengaged Employees can't be turned around: I thought of leaving this one out, but unpleasant as it is, it needs to be included. Sometimes, highly Disengaged Employees just can’t be saved and need to be fired. They've become too complacent, too negative and are bad apples that need to be removed. I’m a big fan of the Manager Tools guys and use their Feedback and Coaching methods every week. You can find out more here: https://www.manager-tools.com/manager-tools-basics With the exception of No. 6, they are all highly doable and I urge you to pick one and give it a go this week. Can you let me know how you got on? (duncan@getvetter.com)
  11. 11. 5. Take one small step today Now... It’s over to you! Take a look back over this Guide and you can see that you now understand and know how to tackle the problem of Disengaged Employees. You have the know-how to turn around the situation to re-engage them and turn them into happy, productive people again. I know it’s self serving, but the absolute easiest first step you can take is to start an employee suggestion scheme. You know which one I’ll recommend http://www.getvetter.com – the tool I created), but there are other options. Just pick something, give it a try with a small group - it’s a low risk, efficient way to boost engagement levels. So what do you think? Can you send me a quick email (duncan@getvetter.com) and just let me know what you think about how you might boost employee engagement levels in your organization? If you’re struggling, then let me help, I love this stuff! Duncan Murtagh Co-founder, Vetter