It's one of the more depressing business statistics: Only about a third of employees say they are engaged at work. The other 70 percent aren't too happy with their jobs, with 52 percent feeling "blah" and 18 percent downright hating their current positions. We all know what this means for employee productivity and the organizational bottom line.
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Employers are aware of the problem, but finding the answer is its own crisis. Figuring out how to engage your employees is no easy task.
Some think higher pay is the answer, but the fact is that only 12 percent of employees leave their jobs for more money. This suggests that the majority of disengaged employees are looking for something other than a bigger paycheck. That's great news for your budget, but now what?
We have some ideas. Here are four great ways to motivate your team without breaking the bank:
Some employees might not admit it, but the truth is that humans like to be noticed. You've probably heard the phrase "There's no such thing as bad publicity." As it turns out, feedback is to the average employee what press coverage is to a Hollywood star. Employees want to hear how their work is affecting the company – good or bad.
We all know that positive feedback leaves workers happy, but it's important to note that constructive criticism is just as important to employee motivation – if not more so. Research suggests that employees actually want negative feedback. When a leader invests in their employees' continued growth through constructive criticism, employees believe that leader sees their potential. This is pivotal for job satisfaction, especially for employees who value support.
To Do: Get to know your employees' work styles, values, and personality traits, and tailor the delivery of your feedback to align with their preferences.
2. Demand That Your Employees Take Vacations
Vacation time is an important way for employees to recharge and release stress. This isn't a baseless platitude: Employees who use their PTO are much more likely to receive a raise or bonus than those who do not use their PTO, which suggests that taking the occasional vacation truly does allow an employee to perform better at work.
Unfortunately, fewer and fewer and people in the U.S. are taking advantage of their vacation days. They fear that taking time off will negatively impact their chances of advancing in their careers.
As a leader, it is important that you encourage your employees to take time off to relax and rest up every once in a while. You may want to lead by example here and make sure you're taking time off yourself. Employees will be likely to follow your lead – plus, no one wants to work for a stressed or exhausted boss.
To Do: Find ways to support the work/life balance of your employees. Help them see that vacation time is just as important as office time for their sake and yours.
3. Give Them Career Paths
Employees don't just want vacation destinations – they want career destinations, too. In fact, one study found that 45 percent of employees left their jobs because they lacked advancement opportunities. So, if you want your employees to feel engaged at work, you should get to know their career goals – and then help them achieve those goals.
It's a good idea to hold conversations with your employees that delve into their strengths, weaknesses, and passions – especially with those employees who particularly value opportunities. Use this information to help mold the right paths for your workers, and be transparent about what is truly possible at your organization. Don't make promises you can't keep.
To Do: Find out what your employees value in their careers by asking them to take a personality assessment. Once you have that information, you can craft a career path that more closely aligns with your employees' wants.
4. Hire From Within
When employees see that their coworkers are moving up the ranks, they'll know that their employer truly does give its workers the chance to advance. That's why it's a good idea to consider internal hires before external candidates any time a new position opens up.
Not only is this good for engagement, but it's also great for your bottom-line: Training and onboarding are less intensive – and therefore cost less – when your newest hire has already been at the company for a while. Additionally, the hiring process overall requires less time and money when you go with an internal candidate.
To Do: Be sure to look for internal candidates before going public with your job openings. Whenever possible, "hire" an existing employees instead of going outside the company.
No company wants to see rising turnover and plummeting performances. The best way to combat these things is to prevent them in the first place by boosting employee motivation and engagement.
The motivators that matter will depend on who your employees are, but the important thing to remember is this: Rather than reaching immediately for material motivators, it's generally a good idea to start by getting to know who your employees are and what they truly want from work.
A version of this article originally appeared on the Vitru blog.
Ryan Mead is the CEO and founder of Vitru.