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Employee Engagement Red Flags and How to Handle Them

Employee Engagement Red Flags and How to Handle Them
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We've all been there. That sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach when you realize your company just doesn't get it. Maybe your boss is a micromanager, or perhaps you're constantly being passed over for promotions. Whatever the case may be, if you don't feel appreciated at your job, it might be time to start looking for a new one. 

Why appreciation matters 

It feels nice if your employer appreciates you, but it has a much bigger impact than that.

Sadly, 39% of employees feel underappreciated at work. Feeling underappreciated isn't just a sad feeling, it also kills your motivation. 77% of people report that they would work harder if they felt more appreciated. That tops any trick in the book to boost your motivation: sometimes your unappreciative employer is simply largely to blame.

More sad news: employers don't seem to see this: 89% of them assume that when employees leave it's because they can get higher salaries somewhere else. Turns out that's only the case for 12 of every 100 people who leave a job. 


Is your employer being appreciative?

Maybe you never thought of it: the way your bosses show appreciation. You're getting paid well, and there are no clear signs of conflict. But that doesn't mean you're in a place where you can flourish, which is something to be aiming for! Is what your boss is doing now enough to keep talent on?

Appreciation is fair to ask—if you are doing your job, of course. After all, we're all human beings, not just a workforce. Some employers struggle to come up with ways of keeping employees happy, while it is basically just keeping people happy–and then it becomes a lot easier to picture. 

But how can you tell if a company is truly appreciative of its employees? Below are some key signs to look for.

1. They use software that makes work easier.

Using the right software as an employer shows you care about your employees' experiences. Because the tools you use, largely dictate workflows. 

From employee management software for HR, to the CRM your team uses: it all counts. If you’re working shifts and your employer uses retail schedule software that streamlines communication and helps you have a say in your schedule, that shows they care. If they use a spreadsheet that you can’t even comment on, they don’t. 

2. They’ve set up a great onboarding system.

True employee appreciation starts before you could've even done anything worth celebrating in the company: it starts right at the interview process and onboarding. A lot of companies are currently looking for new employee onboarding ideas, because experience shows over and over again that it matters to employees. 

A great onboarding doesn’t just mean you get to know how everything works within the business, but that you also get introduced to the team properly, feel included, can ask questions and are part of the fun right off the bat.

The onboarding process should include both practical and personal things. It should let new hires know how the systems work, but also introduce them to the team with coffee chats and an introduction meeting. And: your employer should be looking for feedback on the onboarding process – that’s what makes it truly great.  

3. They have a reward system in place for employees who go above and beyond.

One way to tell if your employer genuinely appreciates you is by looking at whether or not they have a reward system in place. Do they offer bonuses for meeting certain goals? Do they provide gift cards or other incentives for a job well done? There are hundreds of ways to say ‘good job!’, small and big. 

If your employer regularly does this, that's a good sign that they value their employees and appreciate the hard work they do.

It's important to emphasize the word system here—you don't want to deal with an employer who lets reward and recognition be something random. Systems don't take the spontaneity out of a random pat on the back, but do help managers who can be busy sometimes to stop, breathe and show appreciation to the ones around them. If your employer chooses to have a system in place for that, they show that they understand this.

4. They celebrate your personal successes too (both big and small). 

You're more than an employee. An employer who is also ready to party when you have a personal win, not just the professional ones, is one to keep around. Just sold your house? Did you get engaged? Overcame your fear of public speaking? Ran a marathon? It goes a long way if your employer also acknowledges these successes that you've worked on while also crushing it at work.

5. They ask for input and feedback on a regular basis.

Another sign that your employer is appreciative is if they regularly ask for input and feedback from their employees. This shows that they care about what their employees think and feel and want to make sure they're happy with their job. It's a good sign that they value your opinion and want to make sure you're satisfied with your position.

6. They provide ample opportunities for professional development and growth. 

One way employers can show they care about their employees' career goals is by providing opportunities for professional development and growth. This could include things like offering training and development courses, sending employees to conferences, or providing mentorship programs. By doing this, employers are helping their employees grow and develop their skills, which can help them career-wise.

An appreciative and great employer wants to see you grow just as much as they want to see the business grow, and will provide the tools for it. Yes, you might outgrow them, but that shouldn't stop a great employer from being awesome. Be wary of the managers that want to keep you small because they don't want to hire someone else!


7. They're comfortable delegating tasks and letting their employees take on new challenges.

Another sign of an appreciative employer is if they're comfortable delegating tasks. This shows that they trust their employees to get the job done and don't feel the need to micromanage them. It's a good sign that they have confidence in your abilities and trust you to do your job well.

This might sound like the bare minimum, but just think about how many decisions you're allowed or even encouraged to make in your daily work. Is everything set in stone, or is there freedom to do things differently or even experiment?

Employers who appreciate their employees understand that sometimes their employees actually know better, and allow them to make mistakes if they turn out to not know better every once in a while. 

8. They keep a close eye on workloads to make sure no one is feeling overwhelmed or overworked. 

Delegating is great, but it shouldn't be overwhelming. Thus, another sign of an appreciative employer is if they keep a close eye on workloads. This shows that they care about their employees' wellbeing and don't want them to be overworked or stressed out. If your employer is constantly checking in on your workload and making sure it's manageable, it's a good sign that they appreciate you and value your wellbeing. 

Extra ways your employer can show appreciation

Let's look at this like the Maslow pyramid: the elements we mentioned above, are the basics you need. And sometimes employers will try to trick you by showing 'appreciation' in a more 'fun' or even Instagrammable way. 

But those things, which we'll give some examples of below, only truly add value when the foundation is solid and you are truly well taken care of as an employee. 

Here are some things employers can get bonus points for, but only if they do the things we mentioned above!

1. They take care of the basics, from parking to WFH equipment

How can you even begin to show appreciation if you aren’t covering some of the basics, whether people come to the office or work from home.

For example, offering free parking or subsidies for work from home equipment can go a long way in making employees feel valued and supported. In particular, providing free parking or even travel allowance is important – people don't want to have to pay to come to work. 

Employers who invest in parking systems that make it easier for their employees to park their cars without additional costs or hassle demonstrate their commitment to making work life less stressful for their staff. It might seem like a fun little extra, but over the course of a five-year employment, this really saves employees a lot of money and headaches.

2. They host regular team events (i.e., happy hours, outings, etc.). 

Employers should not only take care of employees individually, but also of the team spirit. Fun and useful team events work for that! It's paramount that the employer first checks in with the employees to gauge what it is they'd like to do together. 

What do they need? To get to know each other better? To relax together? To strengthen some weak bonds? This will affect what types of activities your employer should choose. Don't be impressed by pizza parties! Get excited however by team building exercises that really add value to you and your coworkers. 

3. They offer fitness reimbursement, mental health services or other wellness benefits. 

We spend so much time at work, it can be hard to remember to take care of ourselves. Employers who make these kinds of benefits available are a gift, especially if there is flexibility in the types of benefits you can choose from. 

These types of benefits simply take away some of the worries and admin that come with wellbeing, and they also help you cut costs. It's up to you to make use of them, so if they're there, try it!

Does this sound like your employer?

If your employer ticks most (if not all) of these boxes, and not just on Employee Appreciation Day, then chances are they appreciate you and your contributions to the company! Hang onto them tight! But if your employer falls short in many of these areas, it might be time to start looking for a new job…one where you'll be appreciated!

Workflow Podcast

The WorkFlow podcast is hosted by Steve Glaveski with a mission to help you unlock your potential to do more great work in far less time, whether you're working as part of a team or flying solo, and to set you up for a richer life.

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To help you avoid stepping into these all too common pitfalls, we’ve reflected on our five years as an organization working on corporate innovation programs across the globe, and have prepared 100 DOs and DON’Ts.

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Julijana Zlatevska

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