How Can Low Employee Engagement Hurt Your Workplace?
Low employee engagement indicates that something is seriously wrong at your company. It gradually saps your employees' energy and creativity, impairing their performance at work. But how do you figure out what's causing your employees' morale to suffer and how to fix it?
This article will delve more into the topic and discuss how HR leaders can work around improving their employee engagement efforts.
What is Low Employee Engagement?
Low employee engagement is when employees do not feel emotionally connected and invested in their work. They tend to be less productive, have commitment issues, and are less likely to stay with the organization. Some of the common indicators include the following-
- Low morale levels.
- Decreased motivation and employee satisfaction.
- Increased absenteeism and turnover.
Tactically approaching the problem will necessitate careful planning and management support. Achieving a successful engagement program is difficult without a mutual understanding of the top-down hierarchy. Because at the end of the day, the leaders will have to make critical decisions and make them work.
Recommended Resource: Employee Engagement: Creating An Engaging Work Culture
What Are the Reasons Behind Low Employee Engagement?
A low level of employee engagement does not occur overnight. It always has a starting point and eventually grows. Among the multiple factors contributing to low engagement, the following are the most prevalent:
1. Poor Leadership
According to a Gallup poll of more than 1 million employed U.S. workers, a bad boss or immediate supervisor is the number one reason people quit their jobs. Employee engagement starts with good leadership and efficient management. They are the core engines when it comes to achieving organizational goals.
But if an organization has leaders that are poor in fulfilling their responsibilities, it hinders the overall performance and productivity of the employees. It limits an employee’s ability to work and negatively impacts their morale. Some of the actions of a poor leader include things like-
- Limited autonomy and decision-making power.
- Lack of accountability.
- Inability to inspire.
- Lack of vision and direction.
These factors work as a catalyst for low employee engagement and restrict the employees from performing.
2. Lack of Growth and Development Opportunities
68% of employees prefer to learn and grow at work, which is another form of engagement. And organizations must understand that professional growth is an important part of an employee’s life.
However, if there are limitations to employees' development opportunities, their learning curve becomes stagnant. This stops their ability to learn different skills and makes their job monotonous. As a result, productivity suffers significantly, and employees lose interest in their primary responsibilities.
This increases employee disengagement, which harms the organization's overall performance.
3. Unfair Compensation and Benefits
Fair compensation and benefits play a crucial role in the overall engagement of employees. And it is a fact that no one can deny. In fact, according to the survey, 75% of respondents who felt they were paid more than the market rate were satisfied with their jobs. And higher job satisfaction is a clear indicator of good engagement in the workplace.
But, if an employee is not paid or given their fair share of benefits for their work, it demotivates them. This leads them to put less effort into their job, increasing their disengagement. In the long run, this can severely affect employees' work and increase their financial stress.
4. Inadequate Communication and Feedback
The main causes of workplace failures, according to 86% of employees and executives, are a lack of effective collaboration and communication. As an employer, it is crucial to maintain a proper communication channel with the employees. You must check their needs and requirements, which is only possible with good communication and feedback systems.
On the other hand, employees feel undervalued if communication efforts and feedback from managers are insufficient. Without proper communication, the likelihood of conflict and confusion increases rapidly.
While inadequate feedback limits employees' progress, they miss opportunities to understand their strengths and weaknesses. This hinders their career growth and the room to develop new skills. And in the long run, it harms overall employee engagement.
5. Toxic Workplace Culture
A survey found that 28% of employees left their organizations during the pandemic due to toxic workplace culture. And numbers never lie. It shows that organizations must still make the necessary workplace changes that focus more on employees and empower them.
But when does a workplace become toxic?
A workplace becomes toxic when managers or co-workers -
- Take credit for others' work.
- Start micromanaging.
- Indulge in gossiping.
- Limiting the growth of peers.
These factors create a toxic workplace that negatively impacts employees' professional lives. It can lead to excessive stress, anxiety, fatigue, and even depression. In the long run, it hampers the employees' productivity and decreases their engagement level in the workplace.
6. Poor Work-Life Balance
A poor work-life balance is a deal-breaker for 57% of surveyed employees when considering a job. And it is indeed an important factor when it comes to dedicating your time to an organization.
Employees become disengaged if an organization cannot provide its employees with a perfect work-life balance. The work overload heavily affects their mental health as they have little time to rest. In addition, they have a fixed schedule with no flexibility to attend to their personal work, which can increase their frustration.
Employees cannot sustain in such working conditions and eventually leave the organization. In the long run, this can harm the company’s bottom line.
7. The Overall Well-being of Employees
17% of employees feel supported by their employers when it comes to managing their physical well-being. And that is an important number you must consider regarding their engagement.
The employees want a certain degree of understanding from their managers and leaders. However, if leaders are not empathetic toward their employees, sustaining them in the workplace becomes difficult.
Moreover, expecting a hundred percent from their employees becomes an unrealistic feat. Their physical and mental well-being has a huge role to play in terms of their productivity and efficiency.
And if managers do not care for the physical and mental well-being of the employees, the employees' engagement levels drop significantly. As a result, it harms the organization’s bottom line and the workforce's overall performance.
What Are the Long-Term Impacts of Low Employee Engagement?
When employees tend to have lower engagement levels, it has a negative impact on the workplace. Below are a few examples of how it affects an organization.
1. Decreased Productivity and Performance
Lower disengagement means employees do not have the zeal to work. This results in a decrease in productivity which eventually impacts performance and results in poor quality of work.
This harms the organization's operational costs as they must invest more in resolving the issue. And this can be costly and hurt a company's revenue in the long run.
2. High Turnover Rates
Low employee engagement can indicate anything from a poor work-life balance to a toxic work environment. But, whatever may be the reason, they are likely to leave the organization sooner rather than later. And if it’s a frequent occurrence, it will have a long-term impact as you will lose out on your experienced employees, which can be expensive.
You must use all your resources to find a replacement and invest in their training and development.
Recommended Resource: High Employee Turnover: 6 Major Reasons (+How To Solve Them)
3. Increased Absenteeism!
Employees with lower engagement levels tend to avoid the workplace often. As a result, it increases the rate of absenteeism in the workplace. This has a negative effect on the team members as they have to take on extra added responsibilities, which increases their workload.
In the long run, this raises the risk of burnout, hindering organizational success.
4. Negative Impact on Customer Satisfaction
Disengaged employees may not provide the level of service or quality customers expect. They might not respond to customer queries and resolve their problems, resulting in lower customer satisfaction.
This can harm the company's reputation and capabilities to cater to customer needs, making it difficult to restore in the long run.
Recommended Resource: How Employee Satisfaction can lead to Customer Satisfaction
5. Hurts Brand Image
When there is a high turnover rate in a workplace, it becomes difficult to attract good candidates. This gives the impression that the organization is unstable regarding its work culture and has bad leadership.
Moreover, employees might leave negative reviews on online platforms like Glassdoor, which can gravely affect the company's image.
What Can HR Leaders do to Tackle Low Employee Engagement?
We now clearly understand the reasons for low employee engagement and how it can impact a workplace. The next step is to work towards improving the engagement of the employees with a strategic approach. And below are a few of the crucial actions you can take as a leader to improve the quality of engagement in the workplace.
1. Reward and Recognize the Employees
The current workplaces are going through a dynamic transformation while evolving the role of HRs and leaders. The primary agenda is to create a workplace that acknowledges employees' worth and contributions.
With the current workforce dominated by millennials and GenZ, they expect more than a good salary from their employers. They want a workplace that values them and appreciates their efforts. However, they require it in a way that is virtually accessible and provides easier usability.
And to do that, you need to have an on-the-go digital rewards and recognition system capable enough to meet the needs and requirements of an organization.
One of the most important benefits of using a virtually enabled recognition platform is establishing a solid foundation to adapt to digital transformation. In the long run, it strengthens your efforts toward a more efficient and comprehensive recognition system contributes to the organization's goals and objectives.
But why a ‘digital rewards and recognition system’? The below pointers might help you understand the critical importance of it in the current workplace-
- It is easy to run and manage.
- Highly customizable according to the needs and requirements.
- Provides robust reporting.
- Capable of enabling the practice of peer-to-peer recognition.
- Analytical dashboard with crucial insights and information.
The focal point should remain in offering timely rewards and recognition, which is important in improving employee engagement.
Recommended Resource: The Ultimate Guide To Employee Rewards and Recognition
And if you are searching for such a platform, you can try out Vantage Circle’s digital Rewards and Recognition platform. The platform's varied capabilities and functions provide a unique solution to bolster employee engagement efforts. Some of the platform's key features include the following-
- Service Anniversary Awards.
- Social Recognition.
- Spot Rewarding.
- Use of different badges in peer-to-peer recognition.
- Reliable Reporting and Data.
- Redeemable Reward Points.
The platform is aimed to provide a whole new user experience while ensuring high levels of engagement.
Make sure that there is no bias factor when it comes to rewarding your employees.
2. Take Regular Feedback and Act on It
Are your employees satisfied with their work? Do employees feel that they are fairly treated in the workplace? Or is recognition done on time?
These are some of the questions that may have occurred to you. However, how employees feel or perceive their organization is a complex question with varying answers. Employees must have an equal voice to make a difference, and leaders must listen to what they say. The main goal is to understand what kind of workplace employees want. Figuring it out will allow you to work on the shortcomings and improve the overall engagement.
But what practical approach can you take that can make a major difference?
Employee pulse surveys have emerged as one of the most popular methods for assessing employee engagement. Unlike traditional employee surveys, pulse surveys are quick and easy to conduct. The pulse survey findings highlight the numerous factors contributing to an employee's sense of belonging to a company.
And if you are searching for an employee pulse survey tool, your search ends here. You can conduct as many critical surveys as possible using Vantage Circle's Pulse Survey called Vantage Pulse. Vantage Pulse’s unique functionality is that it is adaptable, anonymous, simple to use, and highly customizable. You can focus on curating surveys across 30+ highly beneficial question categories. This will aid in properly analyzing the survey, and you will be able to work on the employee feedback promptly.
3. Focus More on Fair Compensation and Benefits!
Employee engagement takes a big hit when employees feel they are not provided the necessary benefits and are paid fairly. It impacts the overall job satisfaction and morale of the employees. In the long run, there is lower productivity and a reduced sense of loyalty among employees.
However, that scenario can change altogether if you provide the employees with fair compensation and benefits. Understanding the employees' financial viewpoint is essential to ease their stress. You can work on providing competitive salaries, bonuses based on their work performance, and benefits packages that make a positive impact on their lives.
There are several platforms that provide financial well-being packages exclusively for employees. One such platform you can explore is Vantage Perks, which provides employees with a wide range of corporate deals and discounts. The platform allows users to earn cashback and redeemable points, easing financial stress in the long run.
The likely outcome of doing it is that there will be higher engagement, increased satisfaction, and elevated retention rates.
4. Empowering the Employees
Giving your employees more freedom and making them more accountable in every task they handle is what empowerment entails. It involves granting your team members and employees the authority to make decisions and take actions that affect your company.
This ensures that your employees have the freedom to fulfill their duties. Hence making them more responsible and invested in their work. As a result, they are more productive and confident at work. And as a leader, your ultimate goal should be to bring out the best in your employees and make them more skilled over time.
Recommended Read: Employee Empowerment: Are You Doing It Right?
5. Fostering a Positive Work Culture
Employees crave a good work culture where leaders empathize with them and value their presence. Without a good culture, the sustainability of an employee minimizes with time. And that can be a real deal-breaker for an organization. Employees will not feel at home and will switch jobs without hesitation.
However, you can invest your time in improving the work culture employees will love and adore. Some of the critical areas that you can change include-
The work-life balance of the employees, where they can dedicate their time to their personal life.
Creating a psychologically safe work environment where the employees can be free to innovate and try new things.
Having a good team-building system where employees can bond with each other and foster positive working relationships.
Focusing more on peer recognition, where colleagues value their peers and the work they do.
Embracing transparency and keeping things simple so employees can keep up with the dynamic changes in the workplace.
Involving the employees in the decision-making process so that they have a fair share of their opinions.
Ensure that the decisions you make align with the company values and missions in a positive manner.
6. Diversity and Inclusion
Diversity and inclusion are more than just two words in the workplace. It is more about ethics and creating a workplace with a diverse pool of talents. Companies with D&I policies and practices support the voices of different ethnicities and racial backgrounds, which is a big plus in attracting top talents.
And, with the ever-changing shift in thought processes, it is time for organizations to emphasize neurodivergence. Instead of treating it as a disease, one should accept it as a unique way for humans to function. This opens up opportunities for candidates whose brains work differently than the average. They bring a different perspective and take information differently, which can be a big plus for organizations.
In addition, HR leaders can also opt for AI to help remove any hiring bias and work on creating a system that hires talents based on their skills and competencies.
When you focus more on improving your internal organizational systems, it creates an employee-first workplace. As a result, employees have a greater sense of belonging and commitment, improving their engagement.
Provide diversity training in the workplace to create the necessary awareness.
7. Build on Leadership Training
Leadership in the workplace has become an important and critical topic. In the current workplace, employees want more than just guidance from their leaders. Leaders must connect with their employees and work on developing strong relationships with them. To improve leadership quality, providing them with the necessary training is crucial.
The training should be in soft and hard skills to enhance their capabilities. For leaders to become more effective in the workplace, they need to have a balance in both skills.
In addition, leaders can also work on their coaching capabilities to upskill the employees. This way, they can lead the team better and evolve as a people manager. In the long run, this ensures that employees are happy with their leadership, positively impacting their work ethics and productivity.
Read More: Why We Must Not Ignore Leadership Training For Managers
8. Create a Sense of Community and Purpose
Employee engagement is about how employees feel connected to their colleagues and are motivated by a shared purpose. And developing such workplaces can be a difficult task.
However, there are some key and essential factors that will assist you in creating a people-centric workplace. Some include the following-
Peer-to-peer recognition, where employees can appreciate their peers for their contributions.
CSR activities allow the organization to become socially responsible and give back to the community.
ESG enables an organization to become sustainable beyond just environmental issues.
People Sustainability helps organizations focus more on a people-first approach which involves employee well-being, diversity and inclusion, health and safety, and empowerment and growth.
These factors drive a positive work environment that promotes engagement, creativity, and success.
How are you measuring your efforts in creating a culture of purpose for your employees?
Low employee engagement is a significant problem faced by organizations to the degree that employees leave the workplace. Understanding and solving the underlying reasons are important in tackling the issue. You must put yourself in the employees’ shoes and give them the best workplace experience.
At the end of the day, it is your responsibility to drive engagement and focus on job satisfaction so that employees give their best in everything they do.
Q. What can be some of the employee engagement strategies?
A. A few employee engagement strategies you can implement include-
- Transparent communication.
- Robust rewards and recognition process.
- Giving importance to employee feedback.
- Taking care of the employee's well-being.
- Respecting, trusting, and valuing the employees.
Q. What are the challenges to improving employee engagement?
A. Engaging a workforce is not an easy task. It comes with its own hurdles and difficulties. A few of them include the following-
- Lack of support from leadership.
- Misunderstanding between employees and management.
- Difficulty in measuring employee engagement.
- Not having the appropriate technology.
Q. What are the challenges employees face in a workplace that hampers their engagement?
A. Figuring out the difficulties employees face is a critical task when it comes to engaging them. A few challenges that employees face include the following-
- Fitting in the work environment.
- Time management.
- Dealing with harassment.
- Being a victim of workplace biases.