With the U.S. economy on solid footing, American workers may be feeling better about their career prospects, but most aren’t thrilled with their actual jobs. In fact, according to a new Gallup study on the American workplace, two-thirds are disengaged at work or worse.
Most business owners reading that are probably denying this subject pertains to their business! However, when discussing this topic, indicators that are right in front of our eyes are often overlooked. Missed sales goal, tardiness, absenteeism, questionable on the job injuries, lost time injuries, employees racing out the door at (or before) quitting time. As you put these pieces of the puzzle in place, you start to see a picture that is quite disturbing.
Many of our big box competitors are faced with the same problem. They can’t always see it because of its size. It starts right at the bottom (hourly employees) and climbs up the ladder. Most times, the problem is obscured by the temporary work force companies who are in place for these businesses. Smaller companies feel the pain a lot quicker due to the smaller workforce.
Sometimes, you can track this problem to a “key” employee leaving. It is not until the pieces of the puzzle have been put together that you begin to realize how important that employee was to your organization. This was the person who was your motivator. They had the knack for understanding goals and making them into challenges among the team members, making sure these members were recognized for those achievements when the time came. As you perform your postmortem, you realize that this is the tip of the iceberg. This is one of a number of departments that suffers from employee disengagement. Luckily, you’re now aware of the challenge that lies ahead and have a good understanding of what needs to be done to get back on track. You have a plan to put in place to overcome the problems you have uncovered.
You have learned that people need to feel valued as employees, they want to contribute to the company’s success and don’t want to be ignored when offering ideas. They like recognition, especially at those monthly rallies held where employees are given that prestige parking spot (if they drive), or a nice polo shirt showing their achievement that they can wear to work everyday generating healthy competition amongst the team.
The biggest reason for the success of the programs you put in place to overcome this challenge is, you realized these ideas had to come from the ranks! They could not be your ideas, they genuinely had to come from those who truly make the company. Your personal involvement shows to those team members. You listen intently to those ideas shared with you from them. You take time to analyze each idea, personally getting back with each team member and making them feel good about their contribution (even if it could not be implemented). Then, other management members take time to pat that member on the back for their contributions. The real success now comes from the fact that you and your management committed to working with that contributor to assure 100% success. Failure was not going to be an option!
Little by little, your key indicators start to improve, tardiness declines, absenteeism improves, turnover looks better, people are not rushing out the door as in the past. Most of all, members who never cared about that top line number ask you how the company is doing. Business might not be perfect yet, but it is definitely improving. Nice work team!