The Working Dead: Zombies or Disengaged Employees?
Both infections—zombies and disengaged employees— are highly contagious and can spawn a horde.
How to Cure the Infection
For zombies, the answer is, simply put, a bullet in the head and protection from future bites. With disengaged employees, though, it’s not as simple. These are a few tips to help cure your disengaged-employee infestation.
1. Address your employees’ productivity loss right away.
If employee productivity is dropping, there will always be a root cause. It’s possible your employees are experiencing personal problems. Or perhaps your employees feel overworked or underappreciated. Although you may not be able to immediately cure every employee’s concerns, finding out the root of the problem is the first step in curing the disengagement. When employees feel you care and understand their struggles, they will begin to reconnect with their jobs. Remember: they talk, you listen.
2. Train your managers on how to motivate their employees.
Often employees become disengaged because they don’t share the vision of the company. A simple cure is to share the vision with them. Show these employees what part they play in that vision, and share your business successes with them.
3. Give your employees feedback.
Create a comprehensive review system so you can give employee feedback on a consistent basis. Feedback is key. An employee will always struggle to stay engaged in the company if they don’t have feedback to keep them on track.
4. Assign your employees more responsibility where appropriate.
Employees that are not motivated may simply be people that feel underutilized or unaccountable in their jobs. Maybe their assignments aren’t rewarding enough for them, or maybe they feel their ideas aren’t valued. Give your employees special projects outside of their normal workflow. Be careful not to go overboard–if your employees are feeling overworked, the infection might worsen. (See tip three above.)
5. Set attainable and relevant goals.
Employees who have clear, measurable goals that are applicable to their jobs are the ones who succeed in the workplace. Goals like “do better next time,” are not specific enough goals. If you want to do better next time, then you should create a plan to do better next time. In order to reach long-term goals, you must set and achieve many short-term goals that will lead you in the right direction.
6. Purge the disengaged employees that are too far gone.
If you have tried the other tips and nothing is changing with your employee(s), the infection may have gone too deep, and they will likely be contagious to other employees. You must purge your company of these disengaged employees before the infection spreads.
This is a public service announcement from the Center for Disengaged Employee Control*.
* Not really.