So, I decided this week to do an article on employee engagement as a part 2 article to “Bad Management and Office Assassins.“
If you ask a lot of managers how they engage their workforce, they will look at you as though you just took a dump on their office desk. Why? Because they think a salary is enough to get them engaged.
I recently enjoyed listening to a manager who could not understand the connection between engagement and pay rises. It added another nail in the coffin of being employed, and another line about “manager fail” quotes in my book.
Forbes printed an article by Karlyn Borysenko called “How much are your disengaged employees costing you.“
For any manager, the figures in this article should be embedded in their brains next to employee engagement techniques.
It may come as a shock for those of you who have never seen this article, not only for managers but for all those accountants who have been hiding the truth.
True Cost of a disengaged workforce
Before we go into the basic figures, let’s talk about the truth accountants hide. When a manager gets his chief accountant in the room and asks him how much the company can save if we make redundancies, pay cuts, or remove bonuses.
What do you think the accountant does?
The accountant takes the figures in the books, adds them up and tells the manager that you will save this much per year.
They never tell them the actual cost, though.
Yes, cutting the salaries, workforce or benefits may save the company a million pounds a year, but how much will it cost you now that you have just disengaged the entire workforce?
In the forbes article above, you can put a figure on employee engagement costs.
Disengaged employees have 37% greater absenteeism, 18% lower productivity and 15% lower profitability. Roughly translated, your disengaged employee costs you an extra 34% of their annual salary or 3,400 for every 10,000 they make.
Now let’s get back to the accountants above and a very basic example.
Suppose I have a company of 100 people, all costing the company 20,000 per year. That’s a salary bill of around 2million. I ask my accountant how much I can save by not giving the workforce an annual 5% pay rise.
The accountant says, “100,000.”
What he should say is, “100,000, but will cost you 680,000.”
Most managers have no idea about the real costs of employee engagement, or to be honest, most don’t care. They can spot complacent behaviours and lack of motivation but no idea that these are signs of a disengaged employee.
Remember the phrase “one volunteer is better than ten pressed men?”. It is the same concept. Keep your workforce happy and engaged, and you will reap the rewards.
So let us look at some manager fails.
“Why should I praise him for just doing the job I pay him to do?”
“What has pay rises got to do with engagement?”
“If they don’t like it, they can leave.”
“Tell HR to discipline anyone who falls behind.”
“Employee exit interviews”. Why have an exit interview? It’s too late! They are probably not going to tell you the truth anyway. Why not have “Keep interviews”? I am not talking about performance reviews but a meeting to make sure you, as the manager, are doing everything you can do to keep the employee.
These are just some of the things I have heard over the years. This kind of goes back to a very old regulation in the British Military which stated that “An officer may shoot one of his men per month for morale purposes.”
You will find that most of the managers coming out with the above rubbish are also micro-managers and probably the kid at school you always remembered getting beaten up every day.
The recent return to work after covid has highlighted these micromanagers because they are the ones pressing their teams to get back into the office as soon as possible and trying everything to bin the idea of working from home.
The Rocket Science Part
Before we look at the apparent rocket science behind employee engagement, let’s, look at employees making mistakes. You don’t learn anything if you don’t make mistakes. I want my employees to make mistakes because they will learn, and I only get upset if they fail to learn from their mistakes.
So why punish a mistake? Why shout at an employee for getting it wrong? Trust me; the employee will be feeling crap for making a mistake in the first place. There is no need to add humiliation on top of that.
Use the mistake as a training tool. Look at it, analyse it, decide on the way to move forward and learn from it. Now your employee is feeling better and maybe even happy, what have you got now? An engaged employee!
Everyone likes praise. Some people will actively seek it out and kiss ass to achieve it; others get embarrassed by receiving it. But we all enjoy it.
So why not at the end of a shift, day or even the week. Go and see each person on your team, pat them on the back for a great job done and wish them a happy break.
People leave managers, not jobs!
Suppose you are a good manager with a modicum of emotional intelligence. You will be able to get your team to work hard for you, not because they have to but because they want to.
Employee engagement is not rocket science
People in the first world look at third world countries and quickly condemn their working practices and the way that their workers are treated. To be honest, currently, I would say that first world companies, especially the larger ones, are just as bad.
First world corporations on the outside “care” about their workforce but behind the scenes count on the fact that their employees need their salaries to pay their bills and mortgages and will do nothing to put that at risk. Needless to say, the managers treat them badly because they know they can’t afford to quit.
I have in the past been asked to look at a company and report back to senior management on my perception of their employee’s engagement.
With a few simple steps that may include removal or re-training of some supervisors and managers. Changes to work practices and actually listening to the problems the workforce face on a daily basis. Will very quickly show in the bottom line on the company’s accounts.
It’s not hard or difficult to do but does take interest and will.
Unfortunately, it’s easier for some to be assholes and just yell at people.