To understand workforce ‘engagement’ better, it will help to know about ‘disengagement’. Disengagement can be best explained by the mere physical presence of the employee at work while leaving his most valuable part – his real heart and soul – elsewhere. While a disengaged workforce can play havoc with an organization’s productivity, profitability and the workplace atmosphere, a totally focused and engaged workforce can create wonders.
An “engaged” workforce is essentially one in which employees are self-motivated, feel for and are committed to achieving the goals that the organization has set for itself. An engaged employee feels responsible and works for the growth and success of the organization and is willing to go the extra mile without having to be asked to.
The process of employee engagement is crucial because only if this process is in place, will the employee put his heart and soul into the work he is doing. The positive aspects of an engaged workforce range from increased productivity, an exciting work environment, to eager and involved employees – factors resulting in higher profitability.
Discontentment spells disengagement. Disengaged employees are disinterested, often negative, suspicious, and mistrustful and can spread their discontent among the rest of the workforce. Disengaged employees cause internal differences, complain and criticize. They are delighted when other employees follow suit and feed the discontent further. The results of this can affect all aspects of the business from productivity, work environment, profitability, growth, and ultimately success.
The signs of a disengaged workforce are:
- Groupism, formation of cliques between long-term employees and newcomers
- High levels of stress that cause tempers to fly
- Apathy and distrust towards the team leader or head
- Backbiting and gossiping
- Drop in employee morale across the organization
- Decreased productivity
- Fear of failure and extreme reactions because of it
All or any of the above situations over time will negatively affect an organization. Disengagement in the workforce is something that organizations should be concerned about, identify and nip in the bud. One of the primary reasons for disengagement is the dissatisfaction arising from an unhappy employee-boss relationship. Care needs to be taken to ensure development of managers and supervisors in managing people. Many companies follow the rule of promoting the senior-most employee to managerial roles without considering their skill sets in people management. Time spent with an organization should not be the only criteria for providing more responsibility. Skill set upgradation is necessary. Use training and workshops to develop skill sets that will enable them to handle and promote engagement issues well.
Skills that help a manager dispel signs of disengagement include:
- A team-oriented approach
- Situational leadership
- Analytical and problem solving skills
- Taking initiative
- The ability to influence others
The first task is to identify managers who possess some of the above skills or at least have the potential to develop the same. Training should then be given to managers to develop the above skills that will help them increase the engagement levels in the workforce.
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