Keeping employees engaged day to day can be challenging. Yet when they are engaged, they are motivated … and motivation helps us discover joy in our work. Since most of us spend a great deal of our waking hours working, we desire to find meaning in our tasks and with our employer (or clients). And if you employ hundreds to thousands of employees, keeping all of them engaged is no small task.

In fact, engagement is crucial if you want to keep your organization moving forward; yet only 33% of employees are engaged at work, according to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report. Often this is attributed to a lack of value: If employees feel devalued, there’s no motivation to do tasks that now seem meaningless. Their confidence and self-worth are out the window.

Consider employees who have to force themselves to go to work — typically their mood is cranky, they’re depressed, or their work is producing mediocre results. In such cases, lack of engagement is a key issue.

The World Health Organization (WHO) notes that when employees are in a position appropriate for their skills and abilities, and they have support for their work, this will contribute to a healthy work environment. Hiring employees in line with your culture and values is a great start. While skills and talent are important, these can be taught. Values, however, represent who we are and take years to hone.

Alternately, when employees have little support from managers and coworkers, the stress level increases. WHO’s research also indicates that the psychosocial working environment affects employees physically and mentally when it comes to absenteeism, sickness, productivity (link: increase employee productivity), job satisfaction, and intention to quit.

So if productivity or sales are low, for example, pushing people to work longer hours or target more customers is not the answer.

Factors for low employee engagement

If you find that you have to force motivation on your employees, the root of the issue could be one or a few of several factors:

Your employees do not align with your values, culture, or vision.

Your goals, expectations, and strategies are not clear.

Your environment is not conducive to a positive atmosphere.

Your employees do not receive consistent training.

Your employees do not receive praise or recognition for their hard work.

Employees are expected to do tasks rather than offer innovative ideas.

They feel you do not value them or their work.

Your business lacks transparency.

Employees are uninformed about the company and advancement opportunities.

Employees are not encouraged to pursue greater roles.

Your leadership is not setting a proper example.

Your executives do not communicate well with employees.

How leadership contributes to employee engagement

Management is in the position to set the proper example and encourage their team. Leaders need to be personally engaged in the company’s goals and culture. They need to be accountable for their actions, and they need to set higher standards for themselves and strive to go beyond those standards.

Further, leaders must serve as mentors and encourage their employees to grow. They should make sure their team receives continued training to advance their skills and professional growth. Leaders need to keep their employees informed of advancement opportunities within the organization and encourage their employees to pursue them. They also need to be alert to employees’ accomplishments, offer verbal praise, and give monetary rewards.

If managers set the right example by digging their own heels in the ground and living the company’s culture, their team will likely follow suit. If managers are enthusiastic about goals, set clear direction, and invite their team members to be open about ideas and improvements, employees will be equally enthusiastic and willing to assert themselves as team players. They will want to see the organization grow when they realize they play a big role in helping with that development.

Making needed changes

Take a look at the above list again. If employee engagement is a challenge with your organization, then it’s likely one or more of the factors offered need to be scrutinized. Recognize that your company must begin making changes to boost engagement and morale. Otherwise, while you remain stagnant (or worse), your competitors will move ahead.

Loyal employees are your biggest asset. What can you do now to motivate them?

(Information taken from page 6 of the report: Your company’s most important asset – and 7 reasons why it is struggling.)

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