12997161_sWe’ve all heard about the crisis of employee disengagement. Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report found that almost three quarters of U.S. workers are disengaged at work, costing employers a whopping $550 billion a year. While there are plenty of things employers can do to improve employee engagement, it’s even more important to be aware of the things that work against and kill employee engagement in your workplace.

Have you ever worked for someone who ignored your hard work, stole credit for something you accomplished, made unreasonable demands, or never gave you any opportunities for training or job stretch? Or worked in an environment where there was no recognition for extra effort? How did that make you feel about your job and the company? You probably didn’t feel very good about either.

It takes time and resources to hire high achieving employees, create an engaging company culture, and build a top employment brand. Even if your company hasn’t invested in these areas, employee engagement is too important in today’s workforce and global economy to ignore. Don’t let the following employee engagement killers sabotage stalk your workforce and affect recruiting and retention in your company.


You’re Too Efficient

Busy managers look for ways to get things done better, faster, and cheaper, in their own work and in the workplace from others. Cutting costs and increasing production are two major factors in management evaluation and compensation. But Blogging4Jobs founder and XceptionalHR CEO Jessica Miller-Merrell says managers who value efficiency over relationship-building are making a mistake that kills employee engagement. When a manager hands off employee recognition to an assistant or ignores new hires, the opportunity to make personal connections with the people who work for them is lost, along with a lot of valuable engagement. All the perks in the world won’t make up for employees who feel like their bosses don’t care about them.


Nobody Likes to be Micromanaged

It’s destructive and counter-intuitive to hire competent, qualified employees and then not trust them to do their work. Management expert Peter Drucker had a lot to say about the subject of micromanagement, but “So much of what we call management consists in making it difficult for people to work” encapsulates micromanaging. Don’t make it difficult for the qualified people you hired to build your business to get the work you need done. Don’t let managers hover over and control every aspect of how their direct reports do their jobs. That’s a quick ticket to killing employee engagement.

Career analyst and best-selling management and career author Daniel Pink says the desire to direct our own lives is one of three primary factors shaping how we feel about work, along with mastery and purpose. Micromanagement takes that away and kills joy, motivation, and trust. In “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us,” Pink recommends that managers take active steps to give up control to better connect with (aka engage) employees:


  • Involve them in goal setting. Goals dictated once or twice a year in a slipshod performance evaluation is not what he means. Ask for their input on what will move projects along faster, what tools and resources would help them with the work, and what’s realistic and what’s out of reach.
  • Use non-controlling language. Say things like “think about,” “consider,” “look into” rather than “you must,” “you have to,” or “you’d better” when giving direction and making requests.
  • Hold office hours so employees can come and see them. Managers are busy. Everybody knows that. But managers who are aware of and care about engagement know that they need to be available to the people who work for them, even if it’s only for an hour each morning during the week.


There’s a Problem with Recognition and Rewards

If there is no recognition for employees in your company, or your company only recognizes the same people over and over, it’s a problem. If there’s too much team recognition, leaving out individual contributions, it’s also a problem. Lack of recognition or the wrong kind of recognition, inadequate rewards, and insufficient encouragement mean little or no motivation to do well or excel. Executive coach and teacher Dr. Kevin Gazzara says these are a sure way to kill employee engagement and lose employees.


As we move into an employee-driven job market, employers can’t afford unmotivated and disengaged employees, or the employee engagement killers that drive them away.

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