A client recently told me he was concerned as his employees don’t want to be at work. As a result, people go off sick, or they leave. Sometimes they have not worked for the business very long when they decide to leave.
Another client told me that some of his employees don’t perform their jobs very well. They just don’t seem to be very interested in being at work. He thought the problem was that the work is boring and he cannot offer much variety.
The reasons why employees become disengaged may not be what you think
The boss often thinks that the reason why people don’t stay long is because they are not paid enough. Or it may be that the work is boring and mundane and people get bored quickly. Maybe they are just lazy.
Of course, all of those things – and others – could be part of the problem.
But there are some more fundamental reasons why businesses may have trouble in keeping their employees.
The 4 main reasons why people are not interested in their work
1.Our contribution. We all like to believe that we are important. The need to contribute something to the world is in all of us. No matter how mundane, “boring”, or repetitive our job may be, it is critical that we can see why we are doing it.
2.Appreciation. We also want to believe that what we say, think and do is noticed and valued. We all like to be thanked for things we have done. It gives a warm feeling.
3.Our voice. Part of being appreciated is being able to give an opinion and knowing that it has been heard. No matter how mundane the job may be, the person who does it every day is an expert. They may have a good idea about making it more interesting, or speedier.
4.Trust. We like to think we can be trusted to “get on with it” without interference or micro-managing. We want to be able to trust those around us and, particularly, those in a position of authority. In return, we want them to trust us.
These things are inter-related, but all stand alone as well. They are the four critical factors if you want to engage with and motivate your employees.
So what should the employer be doing?
1.Vision. You should share the vision for your business with your employees. All of them. If your aim is to provide the cheapest Will Writing service in your town, then make sure your employees know that. Make sure you show each employee that their specific role contributes to that goal.
The work placement student whose job is just to answer the phone needs to know that he/she is a critical part of the operation. If the phone calls don’t get answered quickly and politely, you risk losing business and credibility. It doesn’t matter how cheap your service is if you don’t have any customers.
This message should be repeated often. Make sure your employees know the importance of their part of the business. Ensure they don’t forget how important you believe they are.
2.Appreciation. It doesn’t cost anything to thank people for their efforts. You may think that someone hasn’t actually made much effort. So thank them for the time they have invested. Sometimes just an acknowledgement that someone has turned up for work is all that is needed.
One of the most successful managers I know made a point of going to the desk of each of her staff every day and saying “Good Morning”. She would ask them how they were and have a one or two line conversation, passing the time of day. It reaped huge benefits for her in terms of loyalty and effort on the part of her staff.
3.Listening. Many managers say they have an open door policy. But do they really mean it? Are they so busy that their diary doesn’t have a free space for two weeks? So if your door is not really open very often, don’t advertise that it is. Your employees may be brimming with fantastic ideas which could save time, money and effort. Or they may have a pressing issue which really needs your input. Or they may just want to let off steam.
You need to ensure that your employees can raise suggestions, complaints or ideas, whatever their reason. And you need to really listen to those things and respond carefully. If they feel they cannot be heard, they will leave your employment to go and work somewhere else where they can be heard.
4.Integrity and Trust. Your employees need to know that you trust them. They may need some supervision if they are unsure of the work, or are new to a process. But once they have learnt the ropes and feel confident, then you should trust them. Of course, if they abuse that trust, you will need to take action. But it is much better to trust them until they prove untrustworthy. The vast majority will bend over backwards to deserve your trust.
Strangely, you will find that if you trust your employees and show them that trust, then they are very likely to trust you as well. That is the basis of a sound working relationship. Your employees are far less likely to leave your employment if they feel valued and trusted.