Most relationships fail due to commitment issues. These issues also extend to the relationship between employers and their employees. In both cases, employers and employees are dissatisfied about the same thing. What is this thing? Commitment.
Employers want to ensure that employees are committed to their organization’s goals, values, and contributing to organizational success. In contrast, employees want to ensure that employers are committed to their professional goals, values, and contribute to their success.
Engagement is an ongoing relationship that takes a lot of time and effort from both parties. Look at it this way, when we are in new relationships, we call this the honeymoon phase! Life is just great, and we even overlook bad habits, compliment each other and invest lots of effort and time to make it work. The same goes for organizations when they hire new employees. They invest greatly in the hiring and selection processes, training programs, and the amount of time they spend onboarding.
Eventually, the honeymoon phase.. phase out. Before long, everyone starts looking for a way out! At this point communication, collaboration, teamwork, and satisfaction drops. Both parties start complaining to anyone that will listen, “I was misled and lied to. I can’t do this anymore. This relationship is just not working, I am stressed, I hate this.” In the end, both parties are unhappy. However, most stay in the relationship because they have invested too much to part ways and are likely too scared to start over.
Both parties filled with resentment and dissatisfaction start looking for a way out. The employer begins looking for ways to replace the employee. Meanwhile the employee starts job hunting, looking to replace the employer. They invest their time and effort looking for an escape, instead of resolving their issues by investing in strategies and programs to improve engagement.
Long-term relationships are not easy to maintain, and there is no one size fit all solution. Therefore, do not expect that keeping employees motivated and engaged to be any different. I have worked for organizations where I was motivated and enjoyed the programs in place. On the other hand, I worked for organizations where I had to drink a cup of coffee with a turbo shot before I could enter the building.
I remember at one job, I sat at my desk observing managers removing employees from the floor due to stress, and anxiety, some were so overwhelmed, they started displaying inappropriate behaviors. I also had some great bosses; leaders who believed in their employees and kept their teams engaged. Alternatively, I had bosses who spend our coaching sessions telling stories about their personal lives and their bar-hopping weekends.
Disengaged attitudes and behaviors from both employers and employees lead to disastrous outcomes- that is- decrease in performance and productivity, which is at the heart of employee engagement. Engagement is building and sustaining long-term relationships build on strong and authentic values. It is evident of trust, fairness, and mutual respect between the employer and the employee. Even though there is no perfect solution to employee engagement, there are tools that can be used.
Here are some ways to sustain engagement without much cost, if any:
Communication – communicate, communicate, communicate
Active listening – listen to employees, this builds trust and sends the message that their voices are valued. Then follow up and take action on their suggestions and feedback
Train employees well; provide the essential tools to perform exceptional work.
Set clear expectations for their work and behavior. Treat employees like the adults they are. When employers treat employees like children, they will behave as such. They will gossip, disengage, use Facebook on company’s time, disrespect each other, etc. These behaviors create a hostile environment.
Be proactive and know what is going on with team members. Nip conflicts in the bud!
Create opportunities for growth and development. Challenge your team with important projects.
Keep everyone involved in what is going on – updates, changes, etc. Hold weekly huddles, daily emails, walk the floor, and have an open door policy.
Encourage laughter, interpersonal relationships, and social activities
Reward and recognize employees and create leadership opportunities.
A long-term relationship is not always about keeping each other happy and satisfied all the time. It is about a commitment to each other. Employee engagement is all about commitment between the employee and the employer to meet each other’s goals for success.