5 Common Causes of Employee Disengagement and What to do About Them

August 30, 2016

It’s no secret that many employees feel disengaged from their work. A lot of times, people blame this disengagement on poor manager relations with employees.

But what if employee disengagement isn’t the result of having a bad manager or an uncooperative team? What if the answer is simpler than this and easier to solve? Many employees today feel disengaged because companies aren’t adapting to the way people actually communicate and learn.

The eLearning world – the business of using electronic applications and processes to learn – can shed some light on the trends and innovations that affect engagement in the workplace. After all, corporate learning is based on engaging and motivating people. ELearning research has identified some ways that workplaces may be contributing to employee disengagement.

Problem #1: Lack of real-time mobile information
If people want to look up a fact when they’re away from work, they use a smartphone or tablet to find the answer. When they’re at work, though, they might have to sit down at a desktop computer and log in to a server. They might even have to pull out a manual. There’s a big disconnect between the way they find information off the job and the way they do it at work – and the work way is slower, less flexible and more frustrating.

Solution: Consider allowing employees to use their own mobile devices in the workplace or provide official company devices if you’re concerned about security issues.

Problem #2: Online overload
Employees may be expected to keep up with online discussion boards, industry blogs and work-related chat rooms. They may be encouraged to take MOOCs (massive online open courses) related to their jobs. The danger is that they may feel overwhelmed and resentful of all this information coming at them.

Solution: A little guidance and focus can go a long way. Managers can work with employees to identify which resources are most important and how much time they’re expected to devote to online information.

Problem #3: Boring training
Employee onboarding can be a great motivator – but only if it’s engaging.

Solution: One important trend that can engage people in eLearning is gamification, where learners advance through levels and win awards as they progress. A survey by TalentLMS found that 89 percent of learners said a point system in training would boost their engagement.

Problem #4: Linear content delivery
Finding just the right information in a manual or an archive can be difficult. Even worse is trying to fit a universal solution into an individual situation. One-size-fits-all information delivery can be overwhelming and frustrating.

Solution: Adaptive learning is a concept that’s being used for learning at all levels. Adaptive learning systems analyze real-time data as learners complete courses to determine what they have learned and, perhaps most important, what they still need to learn. Then an adaptive learning system can create a personalized curriculum based on the individual’s needs. The system tells learners – and their supervisors – how to fill the gaps in the learner’s knowledge. People get the information they need and don’t feel that their time is wasted.

Problem #5: Failure to use teamwork effectively
Isolation at work can be a big cause of disengagement. Effective teamwork creates a dynamic environment where people feel engaged, challenged and encouraged.

Solution: Focus on communication. Paying attention to communication – in all areas of the workplace – is a great place to start building employee engagement.

To foster teamwork, develop a common goal for the team, then create and communicate a vision statement that expresses that goal. Also, be sure that team members understand their roles and the roles of their teammates. Promote and reward open communication among all members of the team.

Here are some additional tips to enhance communication:

  • Listen to what employees are saying about the communication in your workplace. Are they frustrated with training? Do they want to be able to use their iPads at work? While you can’t respond to every request, it’s important to know where they think the gaps are so you can at least let them know why you can’t accommodate their requests.
  • Listen to what employees are not saying. In other words, which employees are disengaged? Can you see any frustrations they have in common?
  • Involve your training department, if you have one, or speak with an HR services provider. They know a thing or two about motivation and engagement.

Most of all, remember that employee engagement is a process of continual evaluation and improvement. Instead of trying to make big changes all at once, start with incremental changes. Evaluate their success and then take the next step.

This communication is for informational purposes only; it is not legal, tax or accounting advice; and is not an offer to sell, buy or procure insurance.

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The opinions and views expressed by guest authors of the TriNet blog are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of TriNet or any of its affiliates or partners.

By Blake Beus

Blake Beus is director of learning solutions with Allen Communication Learning Services. He has extensive experience in healthcare and financial services. What Blake enjoys most about his role at Allen is helping organizations implement initiatives that have a real impact on the business.

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