It’s easy to realize why employee engagement is so important. Gallup, the research agency, has found that teams with high employee engagement rates are 21% more productive. According to their 2017 State of the American Workplace report, however, the majority of the workplace is not engaged. What’s more, disengaged staff had 37% higher absenteeism and made 60% more errors, costing organizations between $450 and $550 billion annually in losses to productivity.There is a gulf between the potential benefits to a fully-engaged workforce and the current level of disengaged U.S. workers. In this post, we will explore the problems with disengaged staff and the best methods for dealing with them.
Problems with disengaged staff
As a project manager, the limitations of disengaged staff may be present without you realizing. So, you need to find the cause before you can start to solve the problem.
Here are some of the main reasons an employee may lack engagement in the workplace:
- Poor work/life balance
- Unrealistic job expectations
- Inadequate resources to complete jobs
- Mismanagement of employee time and skills
- Lack of advancement opportunities
- Lack of reinforcement
- Poor relationships with colleagues
Disengagement becomes a serious problem because the effects can envelop the whole business. Employees can feel like they aren’t getting enough (or anything) from their workplace. This can result in low morale, which will almost always result in a decrease in productivity. If this is occurring unbeknownst to the project manager, this will result in unrealistic project goals that the manager ultimately gets blamed for. If project managers themselves show a lack of willingness to get work done, projects take longer to complete. On a wider scale, elongated projects and low productivity can cost the business money, clients, customers, and their reputation.
Project managers need their resources working optimally to deliver projects on time and to budget. So, it’s important that you help ensure your workforce is as engaged as possible.
How to deal with disengaged staff
Enablers of disengaged staff—inadequate tools, the overutilization and underutilization of employees, and the mismanagement of their skills—are particularly apparent when managing projects. Solving these issues is key to re-energizing otherwise disengaged staff and maximizing project effectiveness. Let’s look at how:
- Improving communication
External factors like the structure or culture of the organization can often lead to disengaged staff. That’s why communication is crucial. Talk openly with your employees to identify what is making them disengaged, so you can find solutions to resolve problems and boost their engagement.
- Improving visibility
Even if you can spot the symptoms of poor engagement, it’s another thing to diagnose the cause and reach a solution. Visibility—over both your people and projects—is a key component of battling disengaged staff.
The underutilization and overutilization of resources (i.e. your workers) is a prime example. An imbalance will mean employees have either too much or too little work to do. Too much work will drain the energy of your resources—which can result in increased stress and decreased productivity. Disengagement can also come from your staff feeling bored, underappreciated or not trusted enough—problems that stem from resource underutilization.
Improved visibility over your resources will leave you better placed to balance the allocation of your team. By distributing work evenly across projects—and assigning tasks to the people most equipped for the job—you mitigate the risk of under or overutilization. Employees who use their strengths at work on a daily basis are 8% more productive and six times more likely to be engaged.
Resource management can re-energize disengaged staff
Resource management software like Tempus Resource provides optimal resource allocation, using models and simulations to help you plan the best approach to managing your people and projects.
Resource models provide more granular views into how your staff are working and their capacity for work, as well as better visibility into project timeframes and deadlines.
Tempus Resource uses ‘What-If’ analysis for sophisticated scenario planning, helping you discover the best possible resource deployment and allocation scenarios for any given project. You’re able to test ideas and hypothesize potential approaches to resource allocation. What if you added two resources to a project—how much could you reduce a deadline for a project? What if you removed three underperforming resources from your project? What would the affect be on overall costs? ‘What-If’ analysis gives you the answers to these questions in a risk-free environment, without committing your time and money to see if it pays off.
This ultimately makes it easier to plan your projects to get the most out of your workers, ensuring they are being allocated the right amount of work, and the work that’s right for them. This way, you will be far less likely to deal with disengaged staff.