Executive Coaching Blog
Employee disengagement: the core cause and the sure cure
Whether you’re a manager or an employee, chances are you’ve had personal experience with disengagement in the workplace. Disengagement takes on many forms; zoning out, apathy about the company and its mission, lagging production and minimal effort are just some of the symptoms. This blog post will help you better understand the one core reason that employee disengagement happens, and what can be done to fix it.
The one reason is this: employees feel dehumanized. If you think this is an over-simplified reason, bear with me. You see, much like employee disengagement takes on many forms, the dehumanized feeling that leads to disengagement comes from a variety of sources.
One can be insufficient compensation. No matter how contentious the current debate about the national minimum wage is and no matter how pervasive the idea is that employees should just suck it up and be grateful for having a job at all in a limping economy, the fact of the matter is that employees won’t invest more than minimal effort and engagement in a company that doesn’t invest enough in them to keep them happy and comfortable.
Other employees feel dehumanized because their individual talents, expertise and skills are overlooked. Employees may or may not have the same credentials that their higher-ups do, but they often have unique insight through hands-on experience about how a business runs, what’s not working and how certain facets of the business could function better. Unfortunately, this knowledge often goes unnoticed and unused. Employees may also be harboring untapped talents that could make the work environment more enriching, pleasant, cooperative and unique. Not having those individual characteristics acknowledged or valued is immensely frustrating and dehumanizing.
But much as these issues all have a common factor, so do they have a common solution: re-humanization of the work space. This involves higher-ups taking a personal interest in the well-being, insight, personalities, attributes and worries of employees. Managers and employers should make it a point to know their employees well enough to understand what would make each of them feel more valued by the company. For example, if a manager finds out that an employee is a skilled painter, utilizing that employee to paint the break room would make that employee feel more valuable to the company. Even if the company is too small to accommodate mass raises in salary, taking one necessity off employees’ plates, like providing lunch so they have one less expense, makes employees feel like their bosses are human beings too who want to give them a voice and a sense of worth.
The moral of the story here is that working men and women are most likely to remain engaged in the workplace if they feel they are being fairly valued to the best of the company’s ability, if they are sought out for practical advice on the company’s operations and if they are recognized and celebrated as individuals with unique assets to bring to the table. It’s not enough to just be employed, to be cogs in a machine. They have to feel like they’re being treated as human beings.Tweet