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The four environmental pressures that lead to employee disengagement

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You can successfully improve engagement when you address disengagement at the individual level.

Companies spend too little time really understanding what makes their people unique and how this impacts their everyday work experience. In fact, many employees are faced with strong pressures to change who they are in order to meet the expectations of their job, manager, team, or culture. This pressure can cause great strain, disengagement, and eventual turnover.

You can successfully improve engagement when you address disengagement at the individual level. Once you understand an individual, you will realize how he/she actually fits into the workplace, on the team, and in a specific role. And, you can learn how he/she has become disengaged by exploring how environmental pressures in the workplace are impacting that individual.

Four environment pressures of employee disengagement

There are many environmental pressures that individuals face which can impact overall employee engagement at your company. We’ve boiled them down to four specific pressures – job fit, manager impact, culture, and team dynamics.

1. Job fit – Misalignment between someone’s natural tendencies and key job responsibilities

Job fit is truly the most important element in all of human capital management (HCM). The disengagement forces are at play here when someone is a poor fit for the job. One way to avoid this when hiring or promoting someone is to understand the person’s personality and behavioral characteristics so you can determine if there’s alignment between the person and job role. No surprise, when you hire the right person for the right job you’ll find they have higher performance, higher job satisfaction, they stay longer, and are generally more engaged. In addition, due to the rapidly changing work environment, jobs often take on new roles and responsibilities. What a person was hired to do on day one may very well shift over time. So while it’s important to hire right, it’s equally important to keep a close eye on how the behavioral demands of the job role might evolve. It’s possible that if the role changes too much, it could be a stretch for the behavioral characteristics of the employee.

HR manager talks with employee

2. Manager impact – Misalignment between manager and staff

As the saying goes, people don’t leave companies, they leave managers. While not always true, it’s true most of the time. And after all, if a manager is not focused on inspiring their employees to be their best, they are not managing at all. Managers need to adapt their management style to each employee’s needs, drives, and behavioral preferences in order to have maximum impact, engagement, and productivity out of each employee. To do this successfully, you have to understand what your employees’ needs and drives include. Yes, this is easier said than done – management is hard work. Remember the golden rule “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you?” Well, that does not apply to good people management. If you’re a manager, here’s a new golden rule: “Do unto others what motivates, excites, and engages them.”

3. Culture – When employees feel like what the culture expects of them isn’t who they really are

Everyone dreams about a perfectly aligned culture – one where the decisions, actions, and behaviors that people take at all levels in an organization are rewarded and valued by the leadership and the overall organizational culture. Does this utopian company really exist? No, there really is no such thing as a “perfectly aligned” culture. That said, a major disengagement force is at play when people work in a culture that expects them to be a lot different than who they really are. When they feel this burden, it’s a recipe for feeling like a disconnected misfit and ultimately provides a good reason to leave.

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4. Team dynamics – When an employee feels like he/she is unlike the team

Feelings of not belonging on a team can cause friction and lead to isolation and disengagement. Think about someone with low extraversion in a sea of social butterflies, or a detail-oriented person surrounded by a team of big-picture people with low attention-to-detail. When these behavioral differences exist, it can be difficult to find common ground, form relationships, and find the right way to work together. It’s important that both the team and the “outlier” be aware of their behavioral differences and how learn how these can be used as an advantage to take the greater team forward versus something that divides them. If you think you have some people who are black sheep or potential black sheep, you need to uncover and unlock their value instead of so quickly deciding they don’t belong.

To address these issues, download our engagement kit to learn how you can improve employee engagement at your organization. Our engagement kit will teach you how to decode your employees and their work experience in order to make disengagement a thing of the past.

Overwhelmed employee

Greg is the SVP of science at PI.

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