If you are a business owner with employees or a manager of employees, you may have encountered employee apathy. You know, the employee that has been doing a great job and then all of a sudden they are not engaged, mistakes are happening, and possibly complaints from clients. When it gets to this point, the challenge of reversing the situation is pretty difficult. It’s not impossible, but it will take a willing effort from both parties.
Causes of employee apathy
There are a variety of reasons why an employee could become disengaged with your organization. Here are a few that may resonate with you:
- They have been in their position for a long time and are now bored with their responsibilities
- They feel they are not appreciated or acknowledged for their work
- Poor performance by other employees is tolerated so there is no reason to try hard
- Antiquated systems or processes make the organization uncompetitive and there is no plan for upgrades
- Something in their personal life is affecting their work life
It is important to remember that you might not agree with their thought process on any of these items, but right or wrong, it is what they believe and is what is driving their thought process and behavior. It’s also important to be open to the idea that there may be some validity in their concerns. This is a great opportunity to salvage an employee relationship and possibly improve parts of your business.
Identifying employee apathy early
The faster you can identify when an employee is starting to become apathetic, the easier it is to help them change course. The nice byproduct of these solutions is that it should improve the overall communications and culture of your organization.
- Have regular one-on-one checkins with your employees. You can do this formally or informally. Ask open-ended questions and then listen. “How are things going?” “How can we improve things?”
- If possible, have group functions periodically. An informal lunch goes a long way to building relationships and keeping everyone engaged as a team.
- Create a mechanism for employees to provide feedback. While this could be a formal process, it can also be as easy as having an open-door policy. If employees are empowered to bring things to your attention with the knowledge that you will actively listen and are interested in what they have to say, it will go a long way to keep them engaged.
- Create a mechanism for clients to provide feedback. An easy way to do this is with a telephone call or an email. It doesn’t have to be elaborate and you can also use the same open-ended questions.
Hopefully apathy doesn’t happen frequently in your organization, but if it does, there are ways to help this situation. A lot of it comes down to you as the leader. You may have an organization-wide issue that you need to change such as improving workflow processes, implementing cross-training to give employees some variety, or creating more of a team environment. You may also need to improve your communication skills and sharpen your leadership skills.
As a leader in the organization, you need to be committed to staying engaged yourself. If you are working in the business instead of on the business, you may be missing key signals that are being sent by your team. Take this opportunity to take a hard look at your current situation and determine if there are areas that need some attention.
If you would like to discuss how to keep employees engaged and stop meh in further detail, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I am here to help!