How to Solve the Problem of Employee Disconnection

Many don't want to invest, because they think by taking care of their people it will make the employees less productive and well-being cuts into work time and affect the bottom line negatively.
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Photo by: Simon Blackley

Many business are often dubious around the influence that emotional well-being impacts an employee at work. Many don't want to invest, because they think by taking care of their people it will make the employees less productive and well-being cuts into work time and affect the bottom line negatively.

A report came out in 2013, called The State of The American Workplace by Gallup. In the paper, "it was estimated that actively unhappy workers cost the U.S. $450 billion to $550 billion a year, due to high absenteeism and turnover, quality-control issues and lost productivity."

The report gave a few reasons for disengagement and included some of the factors, which had an influence on the percentage. It was concluded at 52% of all full-time workers in America are not involved in, enthusiastic about or committed to their work.

Some areas that influenced disengagement mentioned in the report were age, gender, generation, education level and job position. Other factors mentioned in the report were, of the approximately 100 million people in America who hold full-time jobs, 30 million (30%)
are engaged and inspired at work, so we can assume they have a great boss. At the other end of the spectrum are roughly 20 million (20%) employees who are actively disengaged. These employees, who have bosses from hell that make them miserable, roam the halls spreading discontent. The other 50 million (50%) American workers are not engaged. They're just kind of present, but not inspired by their work or their managers.

The discontinuity of management aka boss from hell has a high impact on the happiness and therefore the engagement of an employee.

So, if a business is hesitant to invest in the well-being of its employees, they are missing out on substantially higher profitability, productivity, and customer satisfaction, which also impacts profitability with less attrition and absenteeism, and fewer on the job accidents than those in the bottom 25% of the Gallup report.

How do leaders connect to their employees with emotional intelligence and re-engage with them?

1. Emotional management and engagement: Understanding our own emotions, will help us to understand the emotions of others. Especially, if we comprehend that emotion is behind most intellectual decisions. The better we understand an individual emotionally, the better we can relate to them. Self-management is all about maintaining personal accountability.

2. Focus on what they do well--empower their strengths: Criticizing individuals does not bring engagement, if anything, it creates dissonance and distance. We cringe when judged and shy away from tasks we may be criticized for, so in essence we play it safe and don't do the best we can. Want the best? Treat your employees as they are the best.

3. Engage employees in problem-solving and decision-making. It's not management's position to decide what to do in some situations and then tell their subordinates. To create a buy-in, the employee or group needs to examine the issue, choose what to do, and look to the leader to help them direct their actions. It builds trust.

4. Find the good in failure. No matter what problems are faced maintaining an optimistic attitude in management helps employees to maintain one too. When an obstacle, or a failure occurs, look for one good thing about the situation. Then look to the next steps, a setback is temporary and if it is handled in an optimistic manner, it encourages self-responsibility (because an employee knows they won't be blamed and punished) from subordinates and more loyalty in the long run.

5. Listen. And listen some more. Hear what employees say, not just laying in wait for them to finish, so we can speak. It's about really hearing valid concerns and feelings (not to be used against the employee at a later date), so the employee feels management cares about their feelings--they are part of the team--an integral part of the company. And once we listen, we can then set up a plan of action.

These are just a few items to get the ball rolling. I offer a complimentary questionnaire, which will give you insight to your employees anonymously on the state of their satisfaction with their job and work environment.

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