I have a good friend who recently landed a new job.
She has wanted to make a move for a while, but it took some time for her to secure a job that supports her career objectives.
She is a good friend, and I walked with her through the several stages of her past employment.
I remember when she got this job. She was excited about what she did; she was impassioned and felt like she was contributing to the organization’s success.
She was the first to volunteer to help with projects. She was always looking for ways to improve how the business was doing. She loved her job.
However, over time, I watched her go from being engaged to being dismissive and negative. She was going through the motions but was not happy.
Once the honeymoon phase of her job was over, she realized that the ideal work environment was not a realistic expectation. Management lacked the structure or process to maintain a truly engaged workforce.
It was at this point that she consulted me on helping her “make her escape”.
I wondered how someone who loved their job could go from being so engaged in planning her escape.
The answer lies in the management of the organization she worked for.
A business can either foster engagement or repel an employee into apathy. This is what I witnessed, and it was very sad to watch.
Employees spend a good portion of their lives at work and are typically in one of these three places.
Which of these stages are your employees?
1. Engaged and Contributing
Engaged employees go to work and give more than is required of them.
They love what they do and feel like they are contributing to a common goal.
They feel valued, that their opinions count and that they are part of a cohesive team working toward a common goal.
You can recognize an engaged employee because they will sell what they do to others.
They talk about the job and all of the amazing things they are working on. They feel honored to have the opportunity to help.
A beautiful thing – but much easier said than done.
A poll measuring employee engagement states that only 32% of employees are engaged with their organization.
If that statistic is true, then what are the other 68% doing?
2. Biding Their Time
Most of us can relate to this. Simply biding the time until – the hope that things will get better, the next job, or retirement.
This is when employees are simply going through the motions. Getting the job done but not adding any more than is required.
They are punching the clock while wishing they were somewhere else doing something else.
They are miserable and wish they could quit but understand the financial ramifications of walking away from a salary or a benefits package that their family depends on.
This is a miserable place to be.
3. Planning Their Escape
Once an employee comes to terms with the fact that the job is no longer the right fit they go into this stage of planning their escape.
At this point, they are spending more time looking for a job than getting the job done.
They no longer think about “how can I contribute” but “what is my plan to leave”.
This stage may take months or even years resulting in an organization carrying the financial weight of a person who doesn’t want to be there, isn’t contributing much, and will be gone at some point.
To picture this in real numbers, think about an employee making $25,000/year.
If they are in this stage for two years, your business just spent $50,000 on an employee who walked out the door. Big financial consequences.
So What Can Your Organization Do?
Start with simple communication. Employees go to work with the intention of doing a good job. They want to contribute and to know that they are making a difference.
Talk To Employees
Yes, that sounds simple, but the reality is most managers and supervisors simply don’t talk to their employees.
Schedule time to regularly touch base with employees. Balance work conversation with personal.
Employees like to know their managers care about them as a person.
Solicit Employee Feedback
Employees are the hands and feed of the organization.
They often know more about what is working and what needs improvement than management.
Invest the time and resources to survey employees and simply ask, how can we make things better? You may be surprised at what you learn!
Create A Culture Where Employees Thrive
Every organization has an inherent culture.
Make sure you know what that culture is and that it truly reflects the organization’s mission and strategy.
This includes having a structure to set clear expectations, manage employee performance, and reward those who do a good job.
When there is good communication, clear expectation, and a process to manage it all, you can keep employees engaged – which might reduce the number of employees who are biding their time or planning their escape.
What percentage of your workforce is engaged?