December 4, 2018
Feedback and Employee Engagement

According to Gallup’s 2017 “State of the American Workplace” report, only 33% of U.S. workers say they are engaged at work. That’s a huge problem.

Employees who are actively disengaged are more likely to steal from their company, negatively influence their coworkers, miss workdays, and drive away customers. Further, Gallup estimates that actively disengaged employees cost U.S. businesses an astonishing $483-605 billion each year in lost productivity.

But even though these disengaged employees might not be your best, you know that any turnover is costly. A good rule of thumb is that replacing an employee costs 1.5 times their salary. So, replacing an employee with a salary of $50,000 could cost your company $75,000. When that number is extrapolated across the entire company (executives included), it’s easy to see why improving engagement is so important.

Set well-defined expectations

No one wants to have an unclear idea of what they’re supposed to be doing on a daily basis.  Your employees should know exactly what’s expected of them (provide adequate training, process manuals, appropriate documentation, etc.). More importantly, reinforce how their jobs relate to your company goals and directly affect the bottom line.

The importance of feedback

Lack of communication is at the root of many employee frustrations, so it’s important to ensure that you’re creating channels for honest, specific feedback from and to your employees and providing praise and constructive criticism in real time. Top-down communication can quickly become messy and convoluted. Instead, focus on direct, one-on-one conversations with employees when possible. Also, make sure that your HR folks are taking steps to help managers receive proper training on coaching and communication techniques.

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Conduct Regular Performance Reviews

As times have changed, so has employee expectation for having their performance reviewed. Traditionalists think no news is good news: If things are going well, they’ll keep plugging along.

Boomers, on the other hand, expect to receive their performance feedback via a formal yearly review with documentation to back it up. As a result, Boomer managers often tend to withhold feedback until review time rather than providing ongoing advice.

It’s easy to see how this can turn into a sticky situation when Boomers manage younger generations — Generation X, Millennials, and Generation Z — who ask for a more frequent level of feedback. Nine out of 10 of these newer members of the workforce expect feedback at least once a day.

Because of these generational differences in styles, it’s important to have clear policies and procedures in place on a company level so all employees understand what is expected of them and how and when they will be evaluated. Job descriptions and performance review forms and practices should be standardized, and HR should coach managers to help them adapt to their direct reports’ various preferences.


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