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    5 Signs Your Employees Are Sinking Your Boat (and How to Stay Afloat)

    Elizabeth Dukes

    It starts small. You hear someone a few desks away sniffling. The next day they have a cough, and the person next to you now has a sore throat. Before you know it, everyone in the office has a nasty cold. Say hello to miserable employees and decreased productivity for the next week.

    Just like a virus, employee attitudes are contagious. All it takes is one resentful employee to start complaining, and it’s not long before he’s bringing others down, too. Employees who had been motivated to excel start to question management’s decisions and wonder whether their work really matters. Productivity takes a nosedive. Although you may not be able to transform every employee who has checked out into one who is engaged and motivated, you can develop a company culture where the employee experience is a priority. 

    At our recent Workplace Champions summit, we were honored to have Jill Christensen, the author of If Not You, Who? Cracking the Code of Employee Disengagement, as a keynote speaker.

    Christensen shared with our attendees her invaluable insight on employee disengagement and the huge impact it can have on a business. Here’s what you need to know.

    The Difference Between Employee Satisfaction and Employee Engagement

    In their video, The Employee Engagement Group discussed the differences between a satisfied employee and an engaged employee. In the most basic sense:

    ● Satisfied employees are there to get.

    ● Engaged employees are there to give.

    A satisfied but unengaged employee asks their employer, “What can you do for me?” An actively engaged employee asks, “What can you do for me, and what can I do in return?

    A satisfied employee will stick around for a while, but they probably don’t feel inspired to go above and beyond their basic responsibilities. Engaged employees, on the other hand, are committed to the success of your business. They are more than happy to suggest ways the organization can be improved.

    Paddlers, Passengers and the Employees Sinking Your Boat

    Employee engagement is a spectrum. Gallup splits employees into three categories, based on their survey responses:

    1. Engaged. Employees who are excited about the work they do and the environment in which they do it. They are emotionally invested in helping the company achieve its goals.

    2. Not engaged. Employees who are there for a paycheck and not much else. They are generally productive but not passionate about their role.

    3. Actively disengaged. Employees who are so unhappy and resentful, they actually work to sabotage the company and undermine accomplishments of their engaged coworkers.

    To better illustrate the differences between engaged, not engaged and actively disengaged employees, Christensen uses Gallup’s data and this analogy:

    Your company is a boat with 100 people onboard. In the average organization, only 33 of these individuals are paddling (engaged employees). Fifty are just hanging out in the boat (not engaged employees). And 17 are actually trying to sink the boat (actively disengaged employees).

    Yikes.

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    What Does An Actively Disengaged Employee Look Like?

    Here are a few telltale signs of an employee who is trying to “sink the boat”:

    1. They have no desire to be productive.

    2. They aren’t concerned with the quality of their work

    3. They often arrive late and leave early and are frequently absent without a legitimate reason.

    4. They complain — loudly and frequently — to whomever will listen.

    5. They couldn’t care less about the future of the company and have no problem sharing that opinion.

    How To Cultivate Employee Engagement

    According to Christensen, there are four primary ways to counteract disengagement and foster a culture of employee engagement.

    1. Hire slowly, and fire quickly. Make deliberate decisions about who is in your organization and who needs to be shown the door. Strong managers and supportive colleagues create a happy, healthy environment.

    2. Align employee and organizational goals. Employees should know (and see) their individual work has a direct impact on the success of the organization. Each member of the workforce should be working towards a common goal that not only benefits them but also the company.

    3. Build a culture of two-way communication. In order to earn the trust and respect of the workforce, employers must be authentic, transparent and open. Employees must know management is being sincere and feel comfortable sharing their opinions.

    4. Recognize your employees. Don’t let employees think their contributions don’t matter. Acknowledge how important they are to the organization and make sure they know their hard work is appreciated.

    It’s a well-established fact that replacing an employee costs much more than retaining one. And certainly, an engaged employee will almost assuredly have a longer, more productive tenure than a disengaged one.

    Elizabeth Dukes

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Elizabeth Dukes

    Elizabeth Dukes' pieces highlight the valuable role of the real estate and facility managers play in their organizations. Prior to iOFFICE, Elizabeth was in sales for large facility and office service outsourcing firm.

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