Monday, November 17, 2008

Employee engagement down, how training can help

With businesses across the country suffering under the flailing economy, now is not the time for employee engagement to start deteriorating. Unfortunately, experts say that’s exactly what’s happening.

Employee engagement levels are dropping across the board, revealing that 21% of U.S. workers actively disengaged, according to a recent national study by Modern Survey.

Notably fewer workers feel a strong sense of pride in their companies. Now only about half say they are willing to put in extra effort to help their company succeed and only about half say they intend to stay with their company for a long time.

“You can’t open a newspaper or surf the internet without being bombarded by headlines and stories about the country’s ever-deepening economic troubles. Month after month, we’ve all been learning about the subprime mortgage mess, plummeting property values, foreclosures, layoffs, and the collapse of some of our largest financial institutions. People are spending a lot more time worrying about how to make ends meet than they did just a year or two ago,” said Bruce Campbell, a Senior Consultant at Modern Survey.

Among a long list of unexpected costs, poor employee engagement can lead to unplanned absenteeism, a lack of teamwork, low productivity and damaged morale. Though we can’t do much about the nation’s economy, we can do something to improve employee engagement within our own organizations.

How training can help

Engage employees by providing opportunities where they can improve personal leadership skills. Leadership training gives employees who may be feeling stuck in their current position an outlet to explore the next step and the ambition needed to move up in the company.

Outside training courses and seminars can be expensive and require companies to dole out hundreds of dollars in travel expenses. The best way to keep costs low is to provide in-house employee training and put existing resources to good use.

An employee mentoring program is one low-cost and effective leadership training idea that can help boost employee engagement. Partner employees with managers and executives and have them shadow each other or work on a project together. Both partners will appreciate the change of pace and the employee will pick up valuable, hands-on leadership training that can’t be found at any off-site workshop.

Times are tough right now for everyone. Providing employees with leadership training opportunities will improve engagement and help your business come out on top when the storm clouds pass.

For more employee engagement ideas, check out these related posts:

Incentives and rewards: Now is the time to act

5 tips to build employee morale in a down economy

Corporate volunteering builds teamwork, improves employee retention

Employee incentive ideas on a budget

5 tips of employee training on a tight budget

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