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Guest Blog: Are you accidentally demotivating your employees?

February 18, 2020

Guest Blog by Hibob

How to keep employees engaged

“Disengaged employees cost organisations between $450 and $550 billion annually” — The Conference Board

We all know how important it is for managers to keep top performers engaged, and connect them to the organisation's core vision and values. The best way to do this is to build a culture that encourages these irreplaceables to engage with their colleagues and the company’s purpose and growth objectives.

But is the opposite also true? Can HR cause disengagement to occur? Managers are constantly striving to boost staff motivation. But if nothing seems to be working, it may be because you and your managers are using one these five surefire ways to crush your team’s motivation — without even knowing it.

1. Negative Feedback

A seriously old fashioned way of giving feedback is for managers to point out when someone is doing something ‘wrong', but there's a better approach. Organisations that successfully engage their people value innovation and risk taking. In these workplace cultures, all ideas are welcome, and even those that don’t turn out successfully present important learning opportunities. One study found that 70% of employees ranked being empowered to take action at work when a problem or opportunity arose as an important element of their engagement.

2. Bureaucracy at all costs

Workplace rules and policies are necessary to keep your organisation running smoothly. But it’s important to not go overboard. An effective approach is for managers to speak directly, and privately in one to ones, with those specific employees for whom strict rules are necessary. There are clear differences between a culture that’s fixated on bureaucracy and one that isn’t. The first type of company values individualism and the quality of work. The second rewards conformity and standardisation of work. What kind of company culture do you have?

3. Invisible people don't feel valued

An important way to make people feel valued is for managers to give them higher visibility of their department’s or company’s plans. You can’t expect people to stay motivated about their work when they don’t even know how it’s supporting the organisation’s goals. There’s powerful evidence to back up this idea: employees who feel their voice is heard at work are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work.

4. Micromanaging

Most top performers are perfectly capable of working independently. But micromanagers diminish the quality of work of such employees. Even worse, they destroy these irreplaceables’ morale. A classic book on the subject, My Way or the Highway: The Micromanagement Survival Guide, found that 69% of people who were being micromanaged had considered changing jobs, and a staggering 85% of respondents said that their morale was impacted negatively by being micromanaged.

5. Out to lunch

The flip side of micromanagers are those decision makers who spend all their time in high-level meetings. Frequent real time feedback from your people creates a more engaged workforce. Continuous feedback strengthens the sense of belonging and shared goals, between team members as well as managers. A survey from Globoforce found that 86% of employees who were singled out in the past month said they trusted their manager. When people can’t get their manager’s attention, they stop trying: this number plummeted to 48% when employees never received feedback.

Conclusion: Build trust, boost engagement

Feedback and timely rewards are important. But the key to boosting your people’s sense of engagement is a little something called trust. If the people in your organisation feel they can trust one another, and the company they all work for, they’re more likely to want to stick around. On the other hand, if your workplace culture isn’t open, supportive, and — yes — trusting, people won’t feel inspired to share their expertise and passion to help your company. They’ll simply coast until a better opportunity comes along.

So, what kind of company culture do you have in place?

Guest Blog written by Danielle Mizrachi. Danielle is a Marketing Manager at hibob. She studied business and psychology and believes in the power of utilising behavioural insights to form great companies. She enjoys discovering what the future of work might look like, listening to podcasts, traveling, and hiking.

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