The Weekly Ledger No. 66: Re-engaging Employees

September 8, 2022 Theresa Rex

disengaged young indian working for company re-engaging employees

Welcome to The Ledger where we sum up the latest finance and accounting news for you. This week, we've rounded up everything finance leaders need to know about re-engaging employees at work as we prepare to head into the final quarter of 2022. Read on for some insights, strategies and resources for re-engaging your team like developing a process for identifying team members who have checked out, managing dissatisfied employees and creating a culture people want to stick around for.

The Weekly Ledger about re-engaging employees

How to Identify Unengaged Employees as a Manager - Commencing the Re-engaging Process

All the furor over quiet quitting (It's just simple boundary setting! No, it's poor work ethic!) brought the topic of employee disengagement squarely into the spotlight, keeping the gears of the LinkedIn content machine well-oiled for weeks as everyone from executives to interns weighed in. And to be clear, that's exactly what "quiet quitting" is: employee disengagement called by a more alliterative, social media-ready name.

As a manager, the worst way to find out that someone you supervise has "checked out" has to be when their 30-second airing-of-grievances video goes viral online. Luckily, that's unlikely. Especially if you're invested in employee engagement and well-being enough to notice long before then. Here's what to look for:

  • Barely meeting expectations: When you notice someone walking right up to (but never going over) the line performance-wise, take note. Especially if this person was previously high-performing or leadership-minded.

  • Flying solo: Your team doesn't need to be the very best of friends or even socialize outside of work to be effective, but if one of them shuts down or walks away from any conversation that isn't absolutely necessary, they could be disengaging from the other people they work with, signaling a lack of investment in the work they do, too.

  • Silent observation: This is a subset of "barely meeting expectations", but worth mentioning, because when an employee attends meetings but opts out of collaboration or surreptitiously scrolls during team huddles, that's not a good sign.

  • Performance slippage: Missing deadlines, increased errors and a lack of urgency can all be symptoms of everything from burnout to disengagement and need attention if you see a pattern.

  • Burden shifting: Finally, some signs of disengagement come from everyone except the unengaged employee. If the rest of the team flags an uptick of dropped tasks that requires them to pick up the slack, that likely means the unengaged employee has one foot out the door already.

To understand more about why it feels like so many more employees are disengaged in 2022 and a deeper dive into the topic of "quiet quitting", head to forbes.com and read the full article.

How to Re-engage Workers That are Ready to Quit

When it comes to workers that already have one foot out the door, there's a misconception that there's nothing that can be done. The conventional wisdom casts these folks as in search of greener pastures who couldn't have been loyal workers anyway if they're lured away for a bump in pay. But when Harvard Business Review asked the workers themselves, less than half (just 39 percent) cited compensation as the most important factor when it came to finding — or staying — in a role they found truly satisfying. Here's what they want instead:

  • Remember they have a life outside of work - Overwhelmingly, employees want flexibility in when they work and where they work from as well as some autonomy when it comes to what they're spending (at least) eight hours a day doing. The former acknowledges that "employee" is a single facet of their identity, while the latter allows them to identify more with employers.

  • Lead them by inspiring them - According to HBR's research, workers want to be inspired by their leaders but leaders can fall short without even knowing it. If you want to be inspirational, you'll have to start with getting to know your team — and what motivates them in the first place.

  • Include them in recruiting initiatives - Hiring decisions have a major impact on many more people than the talent organizations are hoping to attract. Workers want to be pulled into the recruiting process with opportunities to offer feedback about the process and positions left vacant when peers depart.

  • Demonstrate the impact of their work - It's hard to engage with processes and tasks that feel disconnected from a clear purpose. When your team can see the bigger picture — and how they're contributing to it — they're more likely to connect to it and invest in a successful outcome.

You don't have to lose your best employees — if you take action with a well-thought-out re-engaging plan when it matters most. Get the whole story and strategy over on hbr.org.

Highly Engaged Teams Have These 5 Things in Common

Employee engagement has been trending downward for some time, and you don't need us to tell you that the pandemic only contributed to the decline. Gallup's recent research has uncovered a pronounced slide in the past two years, but when they looked at outlying organizations with high engagement rates, they found they had five things in common:

  • They walk the walk: Companies that made business and managerial decisions that aligned with the culture statements they espoused emerged as engagement leaders.

  • They're very flexible: From allowing remote work to rethinking what hours work happens between, engaged employees worked for companies that could bend to meet their needs.

  • They have a human-centered focus: With the lines between work and life so thoroughly blurred, the organizations that provided resources to improve their workers' mental, physical, financial and professional well-being rose to the top.

  • They communicate. A lot.: Businesses with omnichannel communication plans and a commitment to clarity and transparency were most likely to keep their workers invested.

  • They let their managers manage: Organizations that invested in leadership development and trusted managers to make decisions even in times of transition emerged as engagement powerhouses.

Once you're out of the triage stage of employee disengagement, you can really focus on what makes good employees stay. Gallup.com has the full findings sheet and strategy for leaders.

Build a Company Culture That Keeps Employees Engaged - Futureproof the Re-engaging Process

Engagement is like a machine with many moving parts, and the key to getting it all running smoothly is an authentic culture that centers on the well-being of its workers. Michelle Hay, Chief People Officer at Sedwick weighed in on what that looks like in a conversation with The Washington Post. It, too, has multiple components, but it boils down to a few essential elements:

  • Don't just offer PTO, insist on it: Encouraging workers to take time off isn't enough anymore, especially in an atmosphere where "unlimited PTO" is perceived mostly as a trap designed to catch slackers. Be clear about your policy, track how effective it is, and adjust it accordingly.

  • All leaders should be culture leaders: Speaking of PTO, have you taken yours? An organization's culture is only as authentic as its leadership's investment in it. Telling your team that your company is invested in their well-being is never as effective as showing them when you lead by example.

  • Keep workloads sustainable: Eventually, everyone must do less with more. But just because someone proves they can pinch-hit and handle a doubled workload in the short-term doesn't make it sustainable in the long-term. Don't "reward" the employees that step up with a case of severe burnout.

  • Foster development and reward curiosity: Overwhelmingly, workers say they want a job with purpose. The best way to give that to them? Enable them to architect what that looks like with development opportunities they themselves identify as worthy of pursuit.

  • Enable autonomy on your team: Too often, organizations hire for skill, ability and experience and then allow them to languish. With enough role clarity and transparent communication, most teams can be trusted to make decisions that contribute to organizational success.

  • Put work in perspective: What people do is a single facet of what makes them who they are. Acknowledging that with healthy boundaries prevents resentment from creeping in and — handily enough — allows your team to demonstrate their dedication and hard work by staying engaged.

When leaders focus on authentic employee well-being (as opposed to hollow perks), they're empowered to re-engage with the work they do and the organization they're a part of. Read the full article at washingtonpost.com to find out how it's done.

In lean labor markets, it can be tougher than ever to keep employees engaged. Personiv can help you protect your hard-won talent from burnout with a virtual talent solution that keeps workloads sustainable, and employees invested.

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