3 Proven Ways to Decrease Employee Engagement

Decrease Employee Engagement a cartoon of 2 businessmen running a race, one blocked by a wall, the other successfully leaping over a hurdle

Are You Unknowingly Doing Things that Decrease Employee Engagement?
After over two decades in the employee engagement field of  and running over 500,000 employee engagement surveys per year, we can pretty easily guess what happened decrease employee engagement on the left of the above picture and what engaged the employee on the right engaged in terms of discretionary effort, advocacy and intent to stay.

Three Proven Ways to Decrease Employee Engagement
Unfortunately, too many companies, leaders, and managers say and do things that decrease employee engagement.  Here are the top three ways to decrease employee engagement that should be avoided at all costs.

1. Set Unclear Expectations
Nobody told the employee on the left what he needed to do to be successful or how his success would be measured. He is confused and full of questions about what went wrong and why he has to struggle to keep in the race. He even had no idea that there would be obstacles.

He worked a full day from Monday through Friday. He thought he was working on the right projects. He continued to draw his paycheck.

No one indicated he was running down the wrong path. In fact, no one spent any time evaluating his performance except once a year when he was told everything was OK. And, he had long ago decided not to rock the boat by asking how he was doing. He rightfully became complacent so that he fit in.

Shame on both the manager and the employee. Every worker deserves to know what it looks like (and what it takes) to succeed in their role. Without clear direction and measured results, employees can get lackadaisical and disengaged.

In this scenario, disengaged employees just keep doing the same old, same old. Of course, this leads to disengagement! If you want to increase employee engagement, use employee engagement training to make sure that your managers create the circumstances where their employees clearly understand:

  • The company’s plans for future success
  • How they fit into the company’s future plans
  • How their job helps the organization achieve success

2. Provide Inadequate Skills
Under-performing and disengaged employees often feel as though they are facing huge and often unanticipated barriers. In the picture above, not only does he not know what he should be doing, he doesn’t even know if he has the skills to get over or around the wall.

Engaged employees are clear about what success looks like and they (and their direct manager) know what specific skills they need to succeed. Don’t handicap your employees by neglecting to provide them with a proven training needs assessment of where they need to improve. Employees should be evaluated on a regular basis, in both formal assessments and informal performance discussions.

Engaged workers also report that they appreciate on-the-spot coaching so they know what behaviors are desired and which are considered negative. The more they know about where they fit and how they contribute, the happier and more secure they can be—especially if they feel they will be fairly rewarded for their contribution.

3. Enable Minimal Opportunities for Growth
The losing employee stuck behind the wall now has a third strike against him…not only does he not know what to do, or if he can do it, but now he does not know how to learn what it would take.

Engaged employees report that if they don’t have the right skills to succeed, their manager will see that they have the opportunity to learn them. Engaged employees also report being consistently encouraged to grow and chase development opportunities throughout their careers. They know what they need now and in the future as they move forward with the organization.

The Bottom Line
When you set your workers off on the path to success, equip them with a clear picture of what they are to do and give them the specific skills needed to do it well. These engaged workers will be in the race and on their way to a successful finish.

To learn more about how to better engage top talent, download Are You Aimlessly Engaging Your Employees?

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