On any given afternoon during the work week, do you know where your employees are? If so, do you know what they’re doing? According to a study from Mercer, there’s a 50 percent chance that any given employee is currently checked out or looking for a new job. According to the report, 32 percent of US workers are, “seriously considering leaving his or her profession at the present time,” and 21 percent are unhappy in their current job and have hit all-time low productivity and engagement levels. So even if your employees are sitting at their desks, they may not be getting anything done.
So, what’s the problem? If you have employees making the same amount of money they made three years ago, chances are they’re unhappy, especially if they’ve taken on more responsibilities and a greater workload. Another issue is many companies have reduced benefits and contributions to retirement funds. Other factors like work environment and office culture can certainly lead to unhappy workers as well.
The first step in preventing dissatisfaction and checked-out employee behavior is by knowing how to spot the tell-tale signs. Here’s what to look for:
- Little or no complaints – Don’t be fooled. Just because an employee has no complaints, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re happy. While you don’t want a workforce of whiners, you want your employees to feel free to voice their concerns and complaints with you. No complaints could be a sign they’re afraid to rock the boat or they just don’t care anymore. Remind your employees you need to know about problems that affect their productivity at work and create an open, comfortable environment for them to do so. For any of you readers who are unhappy workers, check out how to give feedback without getting fired.
- Wasting time – An employee who spends hours on personal internet sites everyday may be an underperformer, or they may just not have enough to do. Make sure your employees have a balanced, fair workload that keeps them feeling challenged and useful. Just make sure not to overload anyone.
- They’re not learning anything new – Are your employees relying on the same skill sets you hired them with? Make sure they’re participating in some type of development opportunities to keep them feeling fresh and relevant. Employees need to be able to answer, "What's in it for me?" to be fully engaged at work.
- No enthusiasm– Employees should find some enjoyment in what they do, even if it’s not the most exciting job. Let them know how important they are to your company, and try to find new challenges for them. Pierre Omidyar, founder of eBay, said, "You have to really believe in what you are doing, be passionate enough about it so that you put in the hours and hard work that it takes...then you'll be successful."
- Too much stress – Watch out for employees who seem to be overworking themselves trying to handle too many demands and not getting enough downtime. Talk about what you can do to relieve some of the strain, and be willing to be flexible with time tables and deadlines so you don’t lose a solid employee.
Find ways other than monetary benefits to reward employees who consistently do good work, like giving them an afternoon off or taking them out to lunch. Remember, every employee is motivated differently. Data derived from assessment tools can be a great way to find out what motivates individual employees and help you retain your best workers. See for yourself the kind of actionable data you too can receive from assessment solutions by trying out a risk-free trial below.
This article was originally published in 2013 and has been updated.