Did you know that 20 percent of the American workforce is actively disengaged? No, this isn’t a line from an employee engagement horror movie. It’s a real, scary fact. According to a recent Gallup poll, one-fifth of our workers are disillusioned. One-fifth of employees—including our coworkers and bosses—lack the passion to do their jobs as well as they could. This loss of engagement creates an environment where inefficiency reigns.
Disengaged workers cost the U.S. about $500 billion a year. (OUCH) Obviously, this is a major issue that businesses have to face head on. So how can companies help address this growing epidemic? Software Advice (a company that reviews and compares HR software) spoke with employee engagement expert and former HR executive, Ruth Ross, to learn her tricks of the trade.
Have a “Stay” Conversation
Ross recommends having what she calls a “stay conversation” to address disengagement. This conversation is a proactive approach to keeping employees engaged. Once a year, managers should sit down with their employees to determine how they feel about their jobs. Ross suggests asking questions like:
- If you could change one thing about your job, what would it be?
- Do you feel like the work you do is meaningful? Why or why not?
- What is on your wish list for an enhanced role in this company?
Asking these questions is only the first step in the process. Once you’ve heard the employees’ responses, you can better determine how they feel about their work—and act. If the employee seems dissatisfied with their role as it currently is, you can work together to determine what steps you can take to make their workload more engaging.
Outline Next Steps
During this conversation, Ross emphasizes the importance of encouraging the employee to have an active role in their re-engagement. Allowing employees the space to note possible organizational issues and personal concerns often leads to an opportunity to re-engage the employee, Ross explained.
For example, during a “stay conversation” with one of her former employees, Ross’ employee remarked upon his dissatisfaction with the organizational structure of the company. Ross saw an opportunity to reignite his interest in his own work, so she put him in charge of a project to revamp the company structure. Her employee regained interest in his own work, and at the same time improved the efficiency of the company. It was a win-win for everyone involved.
Keep in mind that disengagement doesn’t discriminate. This issue can affect any employee at any level. Schedule regular check-in’s and conversations to keep the disengagement bug at bay.
What do you think of the “stay conversation”? Do you think it’s helpful?
View the original interview here.