So what is it about them? Those ‘disengaged’ employees. Those people who sit in meetings with their arms crossed, hostile to change, or those simply doing everything they possibly can to avoid responsibility? Well, quite frankly, the disengaged and the disenfranchised aren’t born. You don’t say when asked what you want to be when you grow up that you just want to be miserable at work or that you want to dread the start of your working week, and you want to always think the worst.
Our research shows that the disengaged are more likely to feel they are going about their jobs without the information they need, they don’t get treated with respect, and their managers don’t respect them. In essence, they don’t trust their organisation. The trust has broken down.
What do we do about it? Well, in our most recent public sector networking session, we spoke about how there are two sides to it. There is the prevention and the cure. In order to prevent it we need to make sure we have honest conversations. We need to involve our colleagues, ensure we look at change programmes as ways to continually improve, not something where we rubbish what has gone before. We need to remind ourselves about our strengths and reiterate how our offer as an employer really is great. It takes leadership and it takes coaching, but it also involves individuals.
As to how we cure it, well the adage goes that prevention is better than a cure. But if you have disengaged employees all is not lost. You need to ensure that you take ownership, there is a collective responsibility and an honesty about where the organisation is now and also ensuring that employees realise their own role in it. Use focus groups to explore the underlying problems, look at how these groups not only are a sounding board of problems, but an open environment to draw out solutions. Look at what the bottom line impact is, and use stories to get across how important it is to resolve the problems.