Fact: Disengaged workers make-up 87 percent of the global workforce – according to research independently conducted by both Gallup and Steelcase.

“Engagement is not entirely based on happiness, but rather how invested an employee feels in the larger company goals”, says Osorio Ramos, Managing Director of workspace specialist firm, Giant Leap. He says that we need to be aware that disengaged staff members are physically present at work and do what it takes to get by, but they quietly drain energy and, in turn, profits from the company.

Apparently there are 13 tell-tale signs of disengaged employees. Complaining, gossiping and lying are just a few of the obvious traits and rather than fostering a healthy workplace ethos and contributing to the overall company culture, they break it down.

On the opposite side of the scale, engaged employees are loyal, more productive, and increase customer satisfaction. They are invested in the larger company goals and in order to gain this kind of investment, companies should provide a workplace that allows and fosters collaboration, communicates the vision and helps employees to shape it from the start. Another way is to provide staff with more control and flexibility in their work. “Employee engagement is about communicating expectations, establishing trust, and allowing staff to take ownership” comments Ramos.

But the question stands, how exactly can management provide employees with more control and flexibility in their jobs, while learning to let go and trust, or risk stifling and alienating talent?

Here are a few tips to increase engagement levels among staff:

  1. Start with a well-designed workplace:Steelcase research shows that 69% of people who are not fully engaged at work are also the most dissatisfied with their work environment. Give employees a choice with how and where they want to work – from where they want to sit, stand, walk, recline, relax and eat etc.
  2. Know the rules: allowing staff to work where and when they want also requires clear boundaries, or it could result in volumes of staff choosing to work in one area, negatively affecting collaboration and unity.
  3. Let staff experiment: Make employees feel comfortable with new ways of working – even a five minute walk in the afternoon can be a way for staff to recover and find a sense of control while helping them to get back on the motivation ladder.
  4. Independence is key: Focusing on ways to give people more independence and discretion over their work day is a good step towards helping them feel like mature, empowered adults.
  5. Think about your future workforce: Particularly Millennials and Generation Z. Although very similar, both have unique requirements and engagement needs which need to be addressed.

Ramos says that companies need to focus on closing the gap between micromanaging and allowing for flexibility. “Internationally we have seen companies that have eradicated managers altogether where employees pick what they want to do, who they do it with, and when they do it. Another example created four job categories that every employee in the company can fit into to be a leader. Another approach is about eliminating the annual leave policy which allows staff to make decisions and purchases without approval”.

As businesses compete, not only for market share and skilled professionals who deliver, employee engagement is one of the most powerful driving forces behind a company’s growth and success; this is done by challenging and confronting employee disengagement with creative and flexible workplace designs and empowering solutions.

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