How to Get Better Employee Commitment

How to Get Better Employee Commitment
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Lack of Employee Commitment Is a Problem
Recent studies show that, across much of corporate America, 70% of employees are complacent or actively disengaged at work. This lack of commitment to their jobs costs dearly. In fact, employee disengagement is responsible for the loss to US businesses of over $270 billion dollars a year. What can be done to get better employee commitment?

Many believe that if meaningful employee engagement actions are not taken, the lack of employee commitment is the single greatest business challenge that organizations face today.

What Employee Commitment Looks Like
It’s easy to believe that your employees are engaged when they work long hours and turnover is low. But employees often put in long hours begrudgingly. What does true employee commitment look like?

Think of the medical workers and first responders during the COVID pandemic who were so unselfishly dedicated to their jobs. They didn’t simply show up. They went the extra mile.

How to Get Employee Commitment
To explain to your employees what commitment looks like in their work environment, try describing the “commitment continuum.” It works because it offers specific behaviors that demonstrate commitment instead of generalities.

From our microlearning experts and consultant Chris Lytle, here’s what each level on the continuum looks like:

  • Level 1: Noncompliance
    Hopes it happens but not that much. Employees think they can’t or won’t be fired, or that “it’s no big deal” if they are.  This can be implicit or explicit.
  • Level 2: Grudging Compliance
    Would like it to happen. Will go along if it’s no extra trouble. Won’t volunteer extra effort.
  • Level 3: Genuine Compliance
    Wants it to happen. But if it’s not good enough, it’s not their fault. Employees think they are doing the best they can.
  • Level 4: Responsibility
    Needs it to happen. Is conscientious. Will go the extra mile unless it’s beyond their control.
  • Level 5: Commitment
    Will make it happen. Creates the needed structure. Owns it. Accountable. No excuses!

When faced with the need to get employee commitment, share these descriptions, and ask, “Where do you think you fit on this continuum?” There’s no guarantee that employees will see themselves where you see them. But at least now you have a constructive way to discuss that perception gap. 

As an example, you might say, “You believe you’re highly committed, but when I asked you to get feedback from the entire executive team on the last project, you only came back with feedback from 50 percent. You said you had trouble getting on their calendars even after you left multiple messages. But a truly committed employee would have kept after them or asked for help until they got everyone’s feedback. See the difference?”

The Bottom Line
When we assess organizational culture, we know that leaders need employees’ full effort to reach targets, the first step in the process of mobilizing your employees’ energy and commitment is to be crystal clear in your expectations of their on-the-job behavior.

To learn more about how to get better employee commitment, download Tips to Increase Employee Engagement through Communication

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