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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Building trust key to engaging employees

If you’ve noticed that employees seem unmotivated and just plain unhappy with their jobs, it’s probably because they are. Recent research shows an alarming increase in job dissatisfaction and decrease in engagement levels.

Only 45 percent of employees are satisfied with their work, according to research from the Conference Board — the lowest level ever recorded by the organization in the more than 22 years of studying the issue. What’s more, according to research conducted by Right Management, 60 percent of employees intend to leave their job in 2010 and another 21 percent are networking and updating their resume. And, a global study of employees in 11 countries found that more than 50 percent of workers in the United States are disengaged, according to Right Management.

Clearly, one major culprit is the economic downturn — and many organizations’ response to it. Frequent layoffs, wage cuts, and increased workloads have created a disgruntled and resentful workforce. At the same time, many companies have failed to provide the necessary clarity for employees around their new roles and how they fit into current business strategy and direction.

But companies that ignore these findings may do so at great risk. An epidemic of job dissatisfaction does not bode well for organizations’ ability to compete, just at a time when they need all the employee passion they can rally. What’s more, they stand to lose many of their valued employees when the economy improves.

What to do? The key is building trust. Leaders must demonstrate their trust in employees and, in turn, inspire employees to place their trust in them. And that means putting a new focus on open, honest communications; helping employees to understand their roles in the organization’s success; and acknowledging and valuing employees’ contributions — and showing that their opinions count.

Remember: trust should be at the foundation of your organization’s culture.

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