According to research conducted by the Gallup Organization, only 30 percent of U.S. workers are engaged in their jobs--that is, they are "involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their work and contribute to their organization in a positive manner." That leaves 70 percent of workers either not engaged or actively (you might even say disastrously) disengaged. According to Gallup, companies pay a heavy price for all this disengagement, to the tune of about $500 billion in lost productivity.
But all is not lost. As a leader, some of the most effective things you can do to develop and sustain motivated, energized employees cost little or nothing at all. Forget the employee-of-the-month award or the big holiday bonus; they have little lasting effect on positively motivating employees. Instead, focus on daily interactions. And be sure that you provide your employees with these five things:
1. Interesting Work
No one wants to do the same boring job over and over, day after day. Though a certain amount of routine and repetition is part of almost every job, make sure each employee finds at least part of his or her job highly interesting. As management theorist Frederick Herzberg put it, "If you want someone to do a good job, give them a good job to do." Find out which tasks your employees most enjoy and use that information when you make future assignments.
Information really is power, and your employees want to be empowered with the information they need to do their jobs better and more effectively. And, more than ever, employees want to know how they are doing in their jobs and how the company is doing in its business. Open the channels of communication so that employees are well informed, can ask questions, and can share information. Be transparent, honest, and forthright. Those qualities will have a direct impact on employees' effectiveness.
As the speed of business continues to increase, the amount of time you have to make decisions continues to decrease. Involving employees in decision making, especially when the decisions affect them directly, is both respectful and practical. Those closest to the problem typically have the best insight as to what to do. Involving others will increase their commitment and speed the implementation of new ideas or changes.
Few employees want their every action to be closely watched and monitored, or for their every decision to be questioned or micromanaged. Most employees appreciate having the flexibility to do their jobs as they see fit and to make decisions independently. Giving people latitude increases the chance that they will bring additional initiative, ideas, and energy to their jobs.
5. Increased Visibility
Everyone appreciates getting credit when it is due. Occasions to celebrate employee successes are almost limitless, and you should never let one pass. One of the best and most highly motivating forms of recognition is to give your employees new opportunities to perform, learn, and grow in response to their recent achievements. They will always rise to the occasion, becoming even more engaged, productive, and effective.