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Is There Trouble in the Air? 8 Things to do When Employee Engagement Declines

March 13, 2023

By: Wendy Sheaffer

You know how it is. Things are good with your team; everything’s clicking, spirits are high, and productivity is higher… until suddenly it isn’t. Suddenly, things feel off. You’re not sure what’s wrong; you just know something is.

Employee engagement is a measure of how committed and invested an employee is in their job and organization. And we all know that engaged employees are productive employees. They are also less likely to leave your company. So, it’s pretty darn important.

But if it starts to decline, it can be a slippery slope. By the time leadership starts to see and feel the impact, it could take a long time to regain traction and turn the problem around.

So, what do you do when employee engagement starts to dip?

Here are 8 things to do as soon as you see or feel the decline in employee engagement:

1. Figure out what caused the decline.

Like any problem, the best place to start is the root cause. Why is engagement declining? You can do this by conducting employee surveys, focus groups, or one-on-one meetings. Until you know the why behind the downward slide, it could be challenging or even impossible to fix. Plus, the last thing you want to do is waste time going down the wrong path.

2. Make sure communication hasn’t taken a back seat.

Most issues boil down to communication problems. Be sure you have not stopped keeping employees informed. Be clear on the organization’s goals, plans, and progress. As people, we want to be in the know; we need to know what’s going on around us. Open, honest transparency is a foundational requirement of fully engaged teams.

3. Lead by example.

If you want committed, engaged employees, be sure you are engaged and committed as well. Employees will be more inclined to happily follow a positive, engaged leader. Positive energy is infectious…in a good way!

4. Track it.

Be sure to keep your pulse on the engagement of the organization so you always know where it stands. Measure engagement levels using the same methods we discussed in number 1… focus groups, surveys, and one-on-one meetings. Doing this continuously means you’ll see issues before they become full-blown problems and hopefully before they negatively impact engagement.

5. Take action.

When you hear about issues from your employees, take action to resolve them. Knowing is only half the battle. Now, you need a plan to tackle the issue. Nothing happens without effort. When your team sees you take real steps to solve problems, it can’t help but start the rebuilding process.

6. Develop your employees.

Career development is often a high priority for employees. That means if you ignore development, engagement will surely decline. Always give your team opportunities to grow. If they can’t move forward with you, they could look to move forward elsewhere.

And forward motion doesn’t necessarily mean upward motion into leadership. Not everyone wants to lead, but they do want to grow, learn, and provide more value to the organization. It could be a lateral move to a new department. Or it could be adding new levels of expertise to the current role. Internal mobility is a great strategy for development.

7. Support work-life balance.

We might get tired of hearing this phrase, but it’s that important. A burnt-out team is not an effective or productive team. Be sure you are encouraging your staff to disconnect and take time off. Everyone needs to recharge their batteries.

8. Give recognition and rewards.

Look for ways to show appreciation for the contributions and achievements of your team. Motivation is the engine that powers the actions of your team.

That’s why knowing the inherent motivators of the individuals on your team is the key to keeping them engaged.

Most people are familiar with pre-employment personality assessments, but did you know that same tool can be used for talent retention and employee development? An informative, practical tool, like an Omnia behavioral assessment test, gives managers a clear, helpful guide to the personality traits and tendencies of each person on their team. It puts the power to motivate them from a place that is meaningful to them right into your hands.

For example, if you have a shy, detailed person on your team, they are motivated by concrete feedback. They like data and details and can feel disconcerted by public recognition, especially if they are put on the spot with no warning. These individuals can feel that general praise is disingenuous. When looking to recognize one of these team members, be detailed about the task or project. Talk specifically about what went well and why. Consider a private conversation or note. If a public announcement is necessary, let them know that you want to talk about their accomplishment at the meeting so they can fortify their naturally reserved nature. They will appreciate your thoughtfulness more than you know.

On the flip side, competitive social extroverts are extremely motivated by public recognition. They will thrive when called out in a public setting and could find surprises even more exhilarating. That’s not to say you wouldn’t provide details on what went right and why it was valuable — you definitely should — but putting a fun, social spin on the recognition will go a long way. The social aspect is what they will find inspirational.

Everyone loves to be recognized and appreciated, just not in the same way. When leadership takes the time to know what works at an individualized level, it is more meaningful to the employee and a better long-term strategy for keeping the fires of employee engagement stoked.

Plus, the Omnia behavioral assessment is quick, accurate, and user-friendly. In less than 10 minutes, managers and employees have data at their fingertips for opening lines of communication, improving relationships, and understanding their teammates better than ever. A connected team is an engaged team!

Wendy Sheaffer

Wendy is the former Chief Product Officer of The Omnia Group. She is a subject matter expert in behavioral assessments and in using Omnia’s 8 columns as a tool to make more-informed hiring and development decisions and effectively engage staff. For more information, email or call 800.525.7117.

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