Why Listlessness is the Biggest Threat to the Workforce

There are a few common employee crises that have stayed in the news cycle over the last few months. The Great Resignation, quiet quitting and quiet firing are just a few of the workforce trends that have snowballed on social media and beyond since the start of the pandemic. Yet, the fundamental crisis, which no one’s really putting any voice to, is the fact that there is now a general listlessness within the workforce.

We’ve been hit at so many different angles. A pandemic, war, skyrocketing energy prices, an uncertain future of the economy, and forthcoming recessions. The impact of these events piling up is that workers are reevaluating their lives as a whole, especially their careers. In response, there’s been a lot of discussion about benefit packages, but that’s not what drives people. We need to look more closely at engagement in order to address this issue.

Employee engagement has hit record lows

A 2022 Gallup report revealed that international workforce engagement sits at only 21 percent. In Western Europe, that figure fell to 11 percent, while in the UK in particular, engagement is at just 9 percent.
Employee engagement has tumbled for a few reasons. The aforementioned societal and environmental factors are a key driver in general attitudes towards work. However, beyond that, reports of burnout have more than doubled since Covid restrictions were relaxed in May 2021. 52% of workers stated that work regularly crept into their personal life. With changes to office and home-working policies and a lack of direct wellbeing strategies in some workplaces, employees have found it difficult to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

4 tips for engaging your employees

Ultimately, the onus is on leaders and managers to engage employees, in order to improve their experience. Here are four tips to kickstart your employee engagement strategy:

Provide regular company updates

Your employees are the most important stakeholders in your organisation. The work they do every day will, by and large, determine whether your business succeeds or fails. In order for them to feel accountable for the company’s growth, it’s important to update them on your successes, as well as any struggles you’re facing.

This is especially apt within the current economic context. In late October 2022 alone, over 52,000 U.S. tech sector employees were laid off. Worries about job security can affect employee engagement. Being transparent about company progress will help to alleviate some of these concerns.

Encourage team collaboration

In the current, tech-first era, a lot of us are spending more time working remotely, which means less face-to-face collaboration with our colleagues.

Similarly to team sports, teamwork in the workplace helps to foster a sense of confidence and satisfaction. Working with others towards a shared goal lightens the load, and keeps people inspired. Encourage employees to work together on projects, and share ideas to give them a greater sense of purpose.

Regularly ask for, and provide, feedback

Research shows that most people are driven by simple hygiene factors, like feeling appreciated and recognised for their contribution. The best way to show this type of appreciation is through providing feedback. This type of engagement is primarily driven by managers.

The ability to give a range of feedback, both appreciative and developmental is a key managerial skill. Once managers are able to ask powerful questions and listen attentively, they are able to improve outcomes. These Operational Coaching® skills are a fundamental aspect of the STAR® Manager programme. Our programme equips managers with the skills they need to create working conditions that actively buoy good health and happiness. As a result, companies are able to boast a return on investment of 74* times per learner (*published research on STAR® Manager evaluated by LSE)

Support employee growth and professional development

Issues like quiet quitting often arise when employees feel like they’re solely working to take home a paycheque. You want your employees to feel that they’re developing professionally, while also contributing to organisational outputs. Understanding how your employees feel, through feedback, will help you to identify areas that they would like to improve on. You can then pinpoint how to support them in doing so.

Final Thoughts

Addressing listlessness in the workforce is no small feat. It takes a varied, but targeted approach to yield better employee working conditions. But the reward is an overall happier organisation that’s driven to help you achieve organisational success.

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