Workplace Frustration Is The Enemy Of 'Employee Engagement'
There are lots of buzzwords bandied about to refer to employees and their ability to be effective on the job. One of the current batch is "engagement" -- the amount of enthusiasm and interest workers bring to the job. High levels of work engagement, the thinking goes, means a productive and happy workforce.
A new book, however, suggests that simply having motivated employees in this "do more with less" era isn't enough. Workers need better resources and support from their employers to match their willingness to get the job done.
Unfortunately for both workers and employers, that often isn't the case, leading to rising levels of workplace frustration, says Mark Royal, co-author of the book, "The Enemy of Engagement."
Royal's research, along with that of co-author Tom Agnew, shows that even as employee frustration rises in today's workplace, organizations are ignoring the problem. The result is a quiet drain on productivity at a time when levels are already sapped.
Further, this frustration is affecting the very employees who are the most motivated and committed to their employers, says Royal, a senior consultant at the Hay Group, a strategy consulting firm.
Royal tells AOL Jobs that such workers aren't those inclined to complain about trivial matters. Rather, they are eager to do the job, but are finding that they can't accomplish what they need or want for numerous reasons including lack of resources, information or tools from employers, or lack of support from colleagues.
Royal calls the problem a "silent killer" and he's come up with a word -- "enablement" -- to describe what employers need to do to tackle workplace frustration.
What's the difference between engagement and enablement? Engaged employees are those energized by the company they work for and the work that they are doing. Enabled workers can take it one step further: They are motivated people who get things done effectively.
"We've run into more and more situations," Royal says, "where engagement levels may be high overall ... but those motivated employees are held back in some way from doing all that they'd like to do and all that the organization would want them to do."
What's more, most managers aren't aware of the problem, in part because engaged workers typically don't speak out, since they don't want to be perceived as whiners or to create problems for their bosses.
Nevertheless, the solution to the problem lies with managers, Royal says, noting several things that supervisors can do to minimize employee frustration. Among them, more frequent feedback about how to achieve goals, and manage priorities and challenges -- not merely an annual review.
It's also important for managers to combine both engagement and enablement to ensure high levels of employee satisfaction and productivity.
It those things aren't done, he says, workers left on their own will resort to one of three choices: seek to solve problems on their own; "disengage," thereby reducing the level of energy and commitment to their workplace; or find a new job.
Of those choices, Royal says, only the first is positive. But even highly engaged, problem-solving employees can only go it alone for so long before they, too, begin to turn off and disengage.
By calling attention to the lack of enablement, Hay Group hopes to raise awareness about the problem, make it more recognizable in workplaces and reduce the level of worker frustration, Royal says.
Employee frustration is an overlooked issue, he says. "[Employers] need to think about engaging as well as enabling people if they're going to be successful."
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David Schepp has spent more than a dozen years covering business news for the electronic and print media, including Dow Jones Newswires, BBC News, Gannett Co., and most recently at AOL's DailyFinance. Nearly 10 years ago, he started writing a weekly People@Work column, looking in depth at issues facing workers in today's workplace. The syndicated column appeared in newspapers and websites nationwide before it made its debut on DailyFinance in 2010. Schepp now continues that tradition at Aol Jobs, covering the jobs beat and providing readers insight and analysis into the nation's challenging employment scene.
Schepp holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Metropolitan State College of Denver.
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