5 ways to re-engage employees
It’s a sad but pretty frequent scenario: Clint joined the team excited to contribute, eager to learn, and ready to share his unique talents and do great work… but a year later, his interest was winding down and seemed headed towards grinding to a complete halt. It seemed Clint is always zoned out during meetings, making excuses to leave early, and even staring out into space as his computer falls into sleep mode. What went wrong? And what could Clint’s manager have done to turn the pattern around and re-engage a once creative, enthusiastic employee?
That’s the conversation Todd recently had with a close friend, who’s struggling with re-inspiring and re-engaging an employee who—only last year—was one of the best and brightest on the team. And Todd’s friend is not alone. In fact, disengagement (boredom, lateness, lackluster performance, and workplace burnout) affects as many as 90% of employees. The truth is, a lot of employees grow disengaged with time, and a lot of teams, initiatives, and companies suffer as a result.
So what could Clint’s manager do to re-engage him? We did some research and put together five tips to follow any time an employee starts checking out.
Reconnect And Listen
The first part of solving the problem is addressing it through an honest and respectful conversation. As Paul Hebert, Human Resources expert and Vice President of Solutions Design at Symbolist, says, “An enlightened company knows that they have human beings on staff, and know that they have problems that require human solutions.” So schedule a one-on-one with your disengaged employee, and ask them what’s going on. Is there a workplace stressor you can address together? How can you help them solve the issue? What do they need to reignite their inspiration and passion on the job? Ask these questions and listen—then formulate an ongoing plan so employees don’t disconnect again in the future.
One common reason for employee disengagement is that an individual’s needs aren’t being met through their current team or leadership structure. So after the aforementioned honest conversation, figure out what you can do differently as a manager to assist your team member in succeeding. Maybe you need to leave your door open for questions or you need to back off your micromanaging tendencies. Whatever the tweak you need to make is, don’t skip this step—research says employees spend 15 hours a month griping about their manager. So there’s always something you can do to improve.
Set Goals Together
For addressing and assisting an employee who’s lost focus at work, Laurie Ruettimann, founder of Punk Rock HR, The Cynical Girl, and The HR Blogger Network, advises, “The best way to refocus their attention is put a deadline in front of them.” To show your team member that you truly believe they have what it takes to re-engage and deliver results, set a goal with them. Brainstorm a way in which they can uniquely contribute to a current or future project, and set a firm deadline. Work with them and check in often to help them succeed. You’ll soon watch that first success grow into a springboard for future goals and victories.
One of the biggest culprits behind today’s levels of disengagement is boredom at work. Many employees begin a new job with excitement and enthusiasm, only to find the day-to-day work doesn’t utilize their full potential and doesn’t ask them for creative, problem-solving solutions. So shake up your employee’s daily routine. Send them to an exciting industry conference. Attend an expert webinar together. Set them up with a mentor in your organization. Find projects where they can chase something they are passionate about that offers both individual and professional growth. All these opportunities will expand their world at work and deliver a dose of inspiration and fresh perspective.
Cheer Them On
There’s nothing more motivating than a dose of appreciation at work—research proves it. Above a raise or a bonus, employees cite recognition as their number one motivator for great work. So if you’re truly committed to your disengaged employee turning over a new leaf, recognize them as they start making small steps in that direction. A simple thank you will work wonders in helping your disengaged employee feel like a valued and appreciated part of the team. And, when they accomplish real results, celebrate the win publicly. It shows the employee, and the entire team that you value and appreciate people and their great work.
Burnout, overworking, the inspiration well run dry: Call it whatever you like. When a previously engaged employee starts falling down the slippery slope of disengagement, the whole team feels the negative ripple effects in motivation, collaboration, and results. Follow these simple tips to turn the disengagement trend around, and your team member will be back to delivering great work and results for your team and organization.
This post was originally published on Forbes.