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5 tips to better engage your employees to prevent attrition

Disengagement in the workplace is an ongoing issue. According to Gallup, only 32 percent of full- and part-time employees are engaged in their company, while 18 percent are actively disengaged.

But what exactly does disengagement mean? While engaged employees are involved and enthusiastic about their work, actively disengaged employees are disgruntled and feel that their needs are continuously unmet.

When disengagement is allowed to run rampant, the whole company suffers. Employees who are actively disengaged reportedly cost a total of $7.8 trillion in lost productivity worldwide. That’s 11 percent of the global gross domestic product (GDP).

Disengagement spreads throughout a company. It doesn’t end with just one worker. So if you don’t stop disengagement, you may find one employee after another leaving.

To prevent this attrition, you must re-engage your employees and motivate them in the workplace. With these five steps, you’ll find a more engaged workforce, a healthier work environment, and a more productive atmosphere.

1.   Prevent anonymity in remote workers

Part of being engaged at work is feeling connected to your workplace. For previous generations, going to work often meant meeting new friends and forging bonds with them. This camaraderie helped create healthy work environments where people felt they had support.

According to one survey, having a friend at work makes you 95 percent happier and 74 percent more productive. In addition, of the 1,200 Americans surveyed, 92 percent said having a friend impacted whether or not they’d stay with a company.

But that same survey said younger generations are less likely to have friends at work, with remote work potentially playing a significant role. For example, fully remote workers reported 33 percent fewer friends at work than those in the office.

How can you encourage friendly relationships in a remote workplace? First, prevent anonymity between coworkers by requiring your employees to have their profile pictures on communication applications like Slack. They can put a face to a name, making them feel like they know their coworkers.

2.   Keep emails professional, personal, and to the point

The average working professional spends about 28 percent of their workweek in their email inbox. Is it any wonder it’s hard to capture a colleague’s attention with an email? With so little time in the day, no one wants to feel like they’re wasting it by reading emails they don’t need to read.

If you habitually hit the “Reply All” button, you should rethink your email strategy. Although the old statistic says you have 27 seconds to catch someone’s attention, this doesn’t apply to emails. When sending an email, you only have 3 seconds to get their attention before they click away.

So rather than sending long emails or emails on long threads that are mostly irrelevant to the recipient, go through the email you want to send and ensure it contains the information needed.

Your email should be thoughtful and purposeful. Demonstrate you value your employees’ time by preventing them from searching through an email chain to find relevant information.

Your employee may not search because they didn’t find relevance in those crucial first three seconds, and your email might just go in the trash. This action may demonstrate disengagement, but it may have only occurred because they didn’t think you valued their time.

With small steps like only sending needed information in emails, you can prevent disengagement from happening in the first place.

3.   Stop micromanaging

Most workers tend to agree that micromanaging isn’t beneficial for the workplace. Plenty of research dating back decades demonstrates that micromanaging limits productivity and can stall a business’s growth.

So, why does it continue to happen? Micromanagement can be tricky to spot, especially if you’re the one engaging in this type of behavior.

Do you have micromanagement tendencies? Do you tend to assume no one can get the job done? Do you obsess over every project detail and expect constant updates from your team? Do you have trouble trusting your team to follow a process without a step-by-step guide?

If you are following these behavior patterns, take action to stop. Build trust with your team and learn to take a step back. Even if mistakes happen, resist the urge to take over the project. Instead, allow your team to work through their mistakes and set up the right types of team coordination to foster communication and collective learning. The more they’re able to learn from errors, the less likely those errors will occur. Over time, you’ll have a more productive, self-reliant, and engaged team.

4.   Set attainable goals together

Goal setting is an essential part of building a business. As a CEO, you always aim for the next place you want to take your company. You never want to stop growing. Most likely, you feel the same about your employees.

You may set goals and analyze them during annual performance reviews. Goals can help your employee engagement because people have something toward which to work. But unattainable goals can do the opposite.

Imposing unattainable goals on your employees can create a vicious cycle. First, they work toward a goal they can’t reach but fail to achieve it. Then, they feel like a failure, and those negative feelings impact their work performance.

From the outside, all you see is an employee not meeting expectations. On the inside, your employee feels crushed under the weight of expectations they can’t achieve. Eventually, they disengage, thanks to this crushing feeling.

One of the best ways to prevent unattainable goals from disengaging your employees is by setting goals with them. Rather than enforcing goals you want them to meet, talk to them about what they believe is achievable.

For example, ask them to strive to grow, but don’t expect someone to quadruple their sales quota overnight. Before your employee leaves their performance review, take the time to ask them about what steps they’ll take to achieve their goal. If the steps seem unreasonable, work with them to reconsider their plan.

5.   Invest in their future

Feeling stagnant in your career may cause you to disengage at work. Research suggests that this fact is especially true for millennials and Gen Zers. For example, a Gallup poll found that 87 percent of millennials rate development opportunities to be an essential job attribute.

Meanwhile, a LinkedIn poll found that 76 percent of Gen Zers believe learning opportunities are the key to a successful career.

Show that you want to invest in these workers’ careers. For example, provide professional development at work. You can also consider giving your employees stipends to take continuing education courses outside the workplace.

Also, place a premium on the employee onboarding experience. Do everything necessary to ensure your employees are comfortable in their new job from day 1.

While these actions are indeed an investment and require additional spending, you’re ultimately helping your company in the long run. Your staff will be better trained and more engaged thanks to your investment.

Disengagement can sneak up on a company. Once it’s established itself, however, it’s not impossible to rid the workplace of it. Getting rid of disengagement takes you being willing to make some changes in the workplace and your and your team leaders’ behaviors. Employees want to feel valued and motivated.

By setting realistic goals, providing learning opportunities, and demonstrating that you understand the value of their time, you can help re-engage your workers. You should also build trust with your team and help them create it with each other. By taking these steps, you’ll find a better-engaged workforce motivated to succeed.

Kristina Perunicic

Kristina Perunicic is a freelance writer who covers business operations, growth, and finance. She works with Stampli, a leading solution for AP automation and invoice management.

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