The Real Cure for Employee Engagement May Surprise You

Employee engagement may seem like a huge mystery, but the cure actually lies in the little things you do that accumulate to larger results.

There's a common misconception employers share about the solution to employee disengagement. Many employers believe if they provide more catered lunches, higher salaries and even cool vacation perks, they would be able to increase employee engagement. However, there's a huge red flag employers are overlooking -- they simply don't understand what employee engagement is.

Seventy percent of U.S. workers are disengaged at work, and employers who misunderstand employee engagement are hurting their most valuable employees. To better understand what increases engagement, you need to know what inspires employee engagement -- and also what brings it to a screeching halt.

Employee engagement is defined by the quality of the relationships you build with your employees -- not the fancy golf outings or vacations to Aruba. While you can continue to spend thousands of dollars trying to engage your employees, at the end of the day, it's the genuine connection and trust you establish that keeps them engaged at work. Nearly nine out of 10 employers believe money is the cause of low engagement; however, only 12 percent of disengaged employees actually leave their jobs for more money.

Regardless of the size of your company, it's easy to worry about the costs involved with employee engagement. Not only do you stress increasing engagement, but also the negative impact low engagement has on your revenues. What's important to remember is not every company can afford to reward their employees with big bonuses or raises to keep them engaged -- and that's OK.

There are some small and budget-friendly solutions to help you cure employee disengagement in your workplace:

Build Trust With Your Employees

Take a moment to look around your organization and observe where trust exists. You'll notice it exists where your company has the most success. Every company is built upon some level of trust; however, organizations with the highest levels of trust are ones that experience increased employee engagement. When employees feel like they're trusted by their coworkers and management, they're more likely to feel inspired at work and produce more results.

Create a Collaborative Workplace

Hopefully, collaboration isn't a new concept to you, but if it is, you may have just discovered another reason why your employees are disengaged. Successful collaboration begins with leadership, but if your organization fails to recognize this, it could be why employee engagement is low.

Collaboration is essential for any organization, so the leaders of your company need to spark two-way communication with employees about the corporate vision. If the vision of your company lies solely with top management, how can you inspire your employees to carry out your goals? To truly engage your employees, involve them in your organization's goals and make them a part of your business strategy.

Praise Your Employees Publicly

Effective employee recognition is key to increasing engagement in the workplace. While some employers worry about creating an employee recognition program, praising your employees doesn't need to be complicated.

Instead, you should focus on creating a culture of recognition. At the beginning of your weekly staff meetings, recognize employees who went above and beyond in the last week. You can also take time out of your day to personally recognize employees who accomplished goals, regardless of their performance levels. When you do a better job at praising your employees, chances are they'll be motivated to stay engaged at work.

Offer Workplace Transition Services

In the unfortunate event you must lay off employees, the last thing you want to do is harm your relationships with them. Offering workplace transition services such as outplacement can help maintain a positive relationship with your employees. Find out what your employees needs are during unemployment and connect them with opportunities to take advantage of.

It's also a good idea to provide them with a variety of tools and resources to get them back on their feet. This way, you'll show your employees you're a great company to work for who also puts their employees first.

Provide Professional Development Opportunities

Keeping your loyal and talented employees engaged plays a huge role in your company's success. A great way to keep your employees engaged is to nurture their skills and give them opportunities to grow as a professional. Providing opportunities for development will show your employees you're dedicated to growth and advancement. Give your employees access to valuable resources such as classes, workshops, training and conferences that can provide them with a variety of learning opportunities. This will encourage growth in your employees and increase their engagement at work.

Work Out Problems Sooner Than Later

The more time that passes after discovering a problem, the worse it can potentially become. Never wait to solve a problem with an employee, regardless of its urgency. You should make it your goal to provide real-time feedback to your employees to help them stay on track with your goals. This will prevent smaller problems from turning into bigger issues and help your employees learn your expectations.

When employees are engaged at work, they will want to make the effort to go the extra mile. Employee engagement has nothing to do with bigger salaries or promotions. It's all about how you interact with your employees and inspire them to fulfill your company's mission.

What tips do you have for curing employee disengagement?