Every new employee, whether a front-line worker or top level executive, comes to the job with a high level of excitement and a strong desire to do well. Then, sometime during their tenure in their companies, most cease being engaged and many start to look elsewhere for new opportunities. Companies cannot afford to have a disengaged workforce and lose their talent to competitors. This is true now more than ever.

A survey for the American Psychological Association conducted by Harris Interactive at the beginning of SurveyQnimages (1) February shows that the stress and dissatisfaction workers feel is related to a number of factors. They write:

Money may be on workers’ minds, but that isn’t the only reason the American workforce is unhappy. Employees also cited lack of opportunities for growth and advancement (43 percent), heavy workload (43 percent), unrealistic job expectations (40 percent) and long hours (39 percent) as significant sources of stress. Additionally, less than half of employees (43 percent) said they receive adequate non-monetary rewards and recognition for their contributions at work and only 57 percent reported being satisfied with their employer’s work-life practices. Just 52 percent of employees said they feel valued on the job, only two thirds reported being motivated to do their best at work and almost a third (32 percent) indicated that they intend to seek employment elsewhere within the next year.

One of the most telling numbers in these findings is that only 52% feel valued. No wonder nearly a third are looking to change companies. In this economic environment (or at any time, for that matter), organization leaders should not neglect the hearts and minds of their employees, especially top talent. As I’ve written in previous blog posts, as soon as the economy starts to improve, those folks will leave, taking all of their knowledge and skills with them. And latest retail and hiring numbers indicate that the U.S. economy is starting to move in a positive direction.

Managers need to focus on re-recruitment and re-engagement of their employees, now. That same spark that people felt when they were hired must be re-ignited. Think about what you say to people you are recruiting to entice them to join your organization and how you could say that to veteran employees to keep them committed and doing their best work. Katherine Jones posted five re-recruitment “questions every manager should be able to answer” about an employee:

  1. When was the last time I told this employee that his or her work was valued?
  2. When was the last time this employee got a raise or promotion in the company?
  3. Do I know what areas might impact this employee’s satisfaction with work?  (Long commutes, commitments with children or parents that may mean a home office would create a more positive working condition.)
  4. Does the employee perceive that the company or department is fair and equitable in issues of salary, bonus, rewards and other recognition?
  5. Do [I] burden the employee with excessive and perhaps unnecessary administrative work that detracts from the ability to spend time on the real tasks at hand?

I would add another question to this list: Does the employee know where the company is headed and how he/she fits into this picture? The results of two surveys of the U.S. workforce conducted by Modern Survey earlier this year indicate that the primary driver of engagement is “belief in the future of the company.” Don MacPherson, President of Modern Survey, believes that this finding is a wakeup call for CEOs to aggressively and intentionally let people know where their companies are headed and how they will get there. He writes:

Enlightened CEOs are communicating to their employees about the future of their organizations. They are providing the necessary roadmap for company success. They are transparent even in difficult times because they know that in the absence of information employees will make up their own reality…and it won’t be pretty…The CEOs around the country who aren’t enlightened better wake up. It’s a scary place out there and a lot of employees feel lost right now. Step up and show people the way or expect that employees won’t be bringing their best to the job – they’ll be too preoccupied with the frightening environment around them.  

Companies have a tendency to front-load the employee experience with the great expectations that will attract those workers to the organization and get them off to a good start. Then these companies seem to take their talent for granted. That is very risky behavior. As we see from survey after survey, a large percentage of employees are disengaged, which means they are not giving all they have to their work and their eyes are looking for greener pastures.

What do you do to re-recruit and re-engage your best employees?


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