According to a study done by Mercer, 21% of current workers have negative feelings about their jobs, but have no plans to leave or move on. This means that many workers are apathetic, negative, and mentally-checked out at work. Think about that for a second. Do you think that it’s possible almost a quarter of your workers are simply hanging on for their paycheck but are not actively engaged?

It does not even have to be a quarter of employees; even a few disengaged workers can seriously harm an organization’s productivity and profitability.

It might seem like there is no way to really engage someone who does not want to be engaged. It is true that turning around a disengaged workforce into an engaged one will take concentrated effort, but it is not impossible. This is how to do it:

Create a Motivational Culture

Motivation starts with a company’s culture. Create an environment where engagement and achievement are recognized and rewarded. As much as possible, make the work that people do combine three basic things: the needs of the company, the skills of the employee, and the desire of the employee to do that work. If an organization takes the time to find overlap between these three areas, then an employee will be more engaged in their work. For more on the importance of company culture, see our other blog post.

Involve your People

If you want to create an engaging environment and a system of reward and recognition that will effectively motivate people, get them involved. Motivating incentives will look different for different people and the most effective ways to motivate people will hinge largely on their perceptions, experiences, backgrounds and generational associations. For instance, motivators for Generation X will be different than motivators for Generation Y. The most important way to know what motivates a person or a group of people is to ask for their input.

Build a Presence Using Social Media

Different companies have different policies regarding the use of social media at work. However, even if employees are banned from social media sites during their work day, most people plug in after work, on the weekends, or during their lunch break. Before social networking, if someone complained about their job, their reach would be narrow. Now with Facebook and Twitter, one status update or tweet can potentially reach hundreds, even thousands, people. So think about this: if your people were engaged and tweeting about how they appreciated their supervisors and enjoyed their work, then they just positively recommended your company to hundreds of thousands of people. Social media can be a huge brand accelerator, especially if engaged employees are telling the world how much they like to work for your organization.

Hire for Attitude and Behavior

According to a study by Leadership IQ, of 20,000 new hires brought on in a three-year period, 89% of those failed for attitudinal reasons, while only 11% failed for technical or functional incompetence. Additionally, Daniel Goleman in his book EI: Why it Can Matter more than IQ found that 85% of success depends on a person’s emotional intelligence, while only 15% of success depended on his or her technical skills. When hiring, you should consider a person’s technical capability, but you also want to make sure that the new employee will mesh with your company’s culture. This means a company first has to know and own their own culture and clearly communicate that culture to anyone new who might be joining an organization.

Engage and Train your Managers

Most importantly, you need to train your front-line supervisors and managers. According to a Gallup survey of 80,000 global employees, the greatest driver of employee engagement is front-line leaders. Engaged managers will know how to motivate their employees to drive excellence and profitability. If you are interested in learning more about manager training, go here.

Engaged employees can mean the difference between a thriving workplace or a stagnant organization where workers are just hanging around to pick up a check. Which would you rather have?

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