Breathing New Life into Struggling Employees: Techniques for Re-engagement

It’s normal for people to not be at the peak of their enthusiasm when they come in for work in the morning. But are your employees making an effort to build walls around themselves and fully distance themselves from work? Are they going through the motions, unhappy and uninvolved, maybe looking for a way out? 

If your employees are disengaged, showing up and doing what they need to do to bring home their check, there are things you can do as a manager to try and improve the situation and build some interest in the workday.

Here are a few tips on how to re-engage people who are disconnected at work. 

  1. Ask for feedback and make it easy to provide it. When was the last time you asked your employees for feedback and then made it obvious you were listening to their suggestions? Big or small, people who feel heard are more likely to feel even a little more invested in their jobs than those who feel ignored or invisible.  Ask them—in an email, a survey, a meeting, in one-on-one meetings, etc.—what they like about their job, the work environment, the company, but also what they don’t like, whether they feel supported, where things are difficult. Find out what their struggles are and work together to brainstorm ways to fix them. Anonymous surveys (truly anonymous, ones that cannot be traced back to who submitted the information) might be the best way to approach this, as people don’t want to be singled out as a complainer or troublemaker and feel this might cause problems for them. Then, follow through on their concerns and suggestions for improvements to show you’re taking their words to heart. 
  2. Talk about goals. Ask your employees what they want out of their job. What do they want out of their lives? What matters to them? Learning their goals, both personal and professional, gives you insight into what makes them tick and what they value most. When you talk about them together, it gives you the opportunity to show your own vested interest in their success and fulfillment and provides a chance for you to talk about how their job can help meet those goals. Maybe someone is more ambitious than their work performance suggests; that’s a chance for you to talk about what it would take for them to earn a promotion, raise, or title change. Conversations are important! 
  3. Talk about the bigger picture. It’s so easy, especially in big, multi-department companies and workplaces, for people to feel lost in the shuffle. If a person can’t see their role as important, or as vital to the overall work the company’s engaged in, why should they care? Every so often, provide that larger picture view of things, pointing out how each department’s contributions matter to the company’s success and progress. Be as specific with how each team contributes as possible, to show that every person’s work matters. 
  4. Try to be more flexible. The world is a different place now than it was five years ago. Yes, most things have returned to something like normal after the pandemic, but things aren’t exactly the same. (Or if they are, maybe that’s a problem too.) If your company sent your employees home for a few months or enacted a staggered schedule to provide more safety precautions, maybe your team wishes those conditions would come back because it worked better for them and their families. Might a staggered schedule be beneficial to everyone? It helps promote work-life balance and gives people a sense of ownership and control over their time. 
  5. Show your appreciation. Pizza parties won’t mend all broken fences. But feeding people makes sure they get a chance to take a break, get a little rest and some nutrition, and have some light conversation with their coworkers. It doesn’t need to be forced chit-chat, but just looking up from their tasks can be a great relief. Also, just say thank you! It’s so simple, but the ability to thank someone for their work and to provide specific details for which you’re grateful that they’re on your team can go a long way. People who feel seen, noticed, valued, and appreciated are more likely to try harder and be a little more present while at work. 

Getting people re-engaged and re-energized about work takes time. It takes effort. It takes patience, and it takes consistency. Things won’t get better overnight, but you have to put in the work to get the results. There might be some trial and error, but find what works for your team. And the best place to start might be by asking them what they want out of their jobs and their workplace. 

If you’ve had some people leave and you need to find new employees, call SmartTalent! We can help you find exactly the kind of job candidates you’d like, with the experience and background that would best fit the open positions, and we can get them to you quickly. When you’re ready to hire, call SmartTalent! 

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