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Fast pace, dynamic, innovative – we come across these words every day. To keep up with today’s enormous speed and innovation, it is crucial to build a talented, diverse and efficient workforce.

Besides talent attraction and retention, employee engagement has become a major challenge for businesses. It is essential for ensuring competitiveness and growth. Research reveals that employee engagement has a positive impact on performance and is key to competitive advantage. Employee disengagement, however, has the opposite effect. Revealed through tardiness, absenteeism and general lack of enthusiasm, it results in lost productivity, higher turnover and disproportionately high business costs. In fact, 11 billion USD are lost annually due to employee turnover.

According to Gallup, which has tracked employee engagement for the past 15 years, only 13% of the workforce worldwide is engaged.

Numbers like these make me wonder: What drives employee disengagement? How can we in HR deal best with disengagement?

A lack of engagement from employees often stems from bad relationships with direct managers, as well as a lack of confidence in senior management. Employees do not quit their companies, but the ones leading them.

No doubt, businesses need to invest in employee engagement if they want to remain successful. Here are five suggestions on how to build an “all-in” workforce:

(1) Encourage continuous feedback, and be open for feedback:

Feedback is a valuable tool for performance improvement and is crucial for everyone’s development. Praising an employee for a job well done is just as important as pointing out where there is room for improvement. Fostering ongoing feedback helps not only employees to understand their manager’s preferences but also managers to identify key strengths and weaknesses of employees. This also works the other way around – managers must be open for feedback. In doing so, managers demonstrate that they care about others’ opinions and are committed to becoming better at what they do.

(2) Give credit to your employees and show appreciation:

According to philosopher William James, “The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated.”

People work best when they receive credit for the work they have done. They tend to be more ambitious, confident and committed to business success. Not giving credit easily leads to the opposite reaction: dissatisfaction and unhappiness, resulting in disengagement and lower performance. Managers must show appreciation.

(3) Empower employees and foster a culture of trust:

In today’s fast paced environment shaped by digital disruption, it is extremely important for businesses to be flexible and agile. Hierarchical thinking and complex communication channels are still preventing businesses from agility. It is time to empower employees and show confidence in them and what they are capable of. Research shows that empowering employees has a positive impact on performance and engagement. The more employees feel that their managers trust what they do and how they work, the more engaged they become in their work and their employer. Approaching employees like this makes working more fun and encourages strong employee-manager connections.

(4) Encourage succession management and career development: Large numbers of disengaged employees claim insufficient development opportunities as a major issue. Regular 1-on-1’s and career discussions are often considered infeasible due to a lack of time, but managers need to make time for regular career discussions and 1-on-1’s. It is their duty to make people successful and help them achieve their full potential. In doing so, managers build relationships and prevent employees from disengagement and leaving the company. So just keep in mind: “You spend so much time finding great people, it’s worth helping them grow to the best they can be.”

(5) Foster employee connectedness and collaboration:

Working in an internationally operating company like SAP where employees are spread all around the globe raises the necessity to actively encourage ongoing collaboration. It is important not only when it comes to different locations but also different business areas. Bringing in different people with different strengths and expertise into a project raises levels of creativity, innovativeness and productivity, and results in achieving a goal quicker. This benefits managers as well as employees, and results in higher engagement and satisfaction.

Building an engaged, all-in workforce is crucial to success as a leader as well as the overall business. Start caring! Start acting!

To learn more about how HR can Run Live and foster a highly engaged workforce, visit here.

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