Unless you’ve just woken up from a 10 year sleep, it won’t come as any surprise that workers are fed up with their employers. Workers across the board share this feeling.
Mercer, the global HR consulting firm, found that nearly one third (32 percent) of American workers are considering leaving their organization, that’s a 40 percent increase since 2005. As bad as that sounds, another 21 percent says they are not looking to leave but are dissatisfied with current working conditions. That means that more than half of all employees (53 percent) have mentally checked out of work. That raises a question I asked several years ago to a group of business owners: “How many unemployed people do you have on your payroll?”
The numbers can be staggering and the root cause in many cases can be traced back to managers and supervisors.
Many supervisors possess sufficient skills to handle day-to-day production activities. Unfortunately few are true people managers – those managers and leaders who understand the motivational challenges that derail many workers. Even more troubling is how few are trained to avoid such traps in advance.
The failure to appreciate and understand what motivates workers is the weak link that leaves organizations vulnerable to employee burnout, disengagement, and employee turnover. Teaching supervisors how to manage and motivate effectively is both the prevention and the cure for controlling the spread of what I have called the Attitude Virus.
Just as the government funds the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, whose experts tackle health issues among the general population, businesses need Centers for Attitude Improvement and Employee Engagement, staffed with experts who tackle motivational issues in the workplace.
What follows are four steps that an organization can follow to immunize the workplace and end bad attitudes:
- Diagnose. Recognize that there is an attitude problem. This requires an honest assessment of the organization from top-down, then extending out to your vendors, suppliers and customers. Acknowledge any underlying causes of the Attitude Virus and take responsibility for removing them.
- Assess. Select and promote only supervisors who have the skills or potential to manage, and provide the tools and training they need to detect a contagious worker or new hire, before their “bad attitude disease” leeches the morale and motivation from the healthy workers. Effective supervisors hold the keys to employee retention and profitability.
- Treat. Take responsibility for upgrading the skills of your first line of defense, the frontline supervisors and managers, who battle such “infections” and “exposures” on a daily basis. Develop and train supervisors to have the skills to “quarantine” or treat infected workers and coach them back to health. The Virus is mutating almost daily, and continuous learning is crucial.
- Monitor, monitor, monitor. Just as attending a diet class and waiting for the pounds to drop off is ludicrous, providing skills training without reinforcement, feedback and re-testing is equally bad. Identify the skills that differentiate your highly effective managers from the average performers, develop training that is specific and responsive to those specific skills, and provide ongoing feedback and post-assessment to monitor progress and ensure protection.
Now is the time to attack the Attitude Virus and immunize your organization. Companies that are Attitude Virus-free will continue to grow and prosper, because they know how to select positive workers and quarantine their infected employees (either nurture and rehabilitate them back to health or “delete” them before they infect other workers.)
A work culture clean and free of the Attitude Virus is rewarded with a healthy bottom line, high rates of employee retention, and continuous productivity improvements.