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How to turn a miserable employee into an engaged one

2 min read

How to turn a miserable employee into an engaged one

Let’s face it; there are a lot of miserable people in the workplace. How do you turn an unhappy employee into an engaged one?

Let’s face it; there are a lot of miserable people in the workplace.

While it might be tempting to either terminate the employee, or do nothing and hope they leave on their own, there is a third alternative. Studies show that the creation of an 'engaged workforce' will get employers the best results. But if employers want engaged employees they need to be willing to do their part in making it happen.

The good news is that employee engagement has evolved beyond the 'touchy feely' stuff, meaning that most leaders are starting to see the correlation between employee engagement and the company profit. If you are still skeptical, consider these stats:

  • Companies with a highly engaged workforce improved operating income by 19.2% over a period of 12 months, whilst those companies with low engagement scores saw operating income decline by 32.7% over the same period. (Towers Watson)
  • A 1% increase in employee commitment can lead to a monthly increase of 9% in sales. (IES)
  • The lost productivity of actively disengaged employees costs the US economy $370 BILLION annually. (Gallup)

Regardless, an unengaged employee will ultimately cost you. So before you venture down the road to termination or doing nothing, here are a few things you might want to try:

  1. Ask them their opinion. Most people just want to feel as though their opinion matters. Find a problem or project that you are working on and ask for their feedback. They will enjoy the respect, and you might actually find a solution to your challenge.
  2. Recognize them. Is your most miserable employee someone who is always reprimanded when something goes awry? When was the last time they were called out for something positive? Even if it seems like this employee has done nothing right, try to find a small accomplishment and begin from there.
  3. Include them in meetings. Nothing is more frustrating for a disconnected employee than to watch the same group of managers meet and make decisions. Don’t be quick to assume a particular meeting has no relevance to an employee in a different department. For example, the Technical Support rep may not seem like a good fit for a weekly Sales meeting, but consider the impact this employee may have when contributing to a discussion of lost customers. Allowing them the opportunity to see the company from a bigger picture can transform an attitude overnight.
  4. Pair them up with someone they don’t like. Sounds like a nightmare huh? Sometimes the reason we don’t get along with people is because we don’t truly know them. The workplace is a funny environment with multiple personalities, and unlike in school, we don’t always get to choose who we sit next to. So find a project to allow a despondent employee to really get to know someone they think they don’t like. You might be surprised at the results.
  5. Send them out of town. No, this isn’t for the purpose of getting rid of them. What I really mean is to send them out on the road at an event like a tradeshow. One of the best ways to get an employee engaged in a company is to actually provide a scenario where they can see how customers interact with your brand and product.

So what makes me think these may work? Well, like a LOT of people I was once a miserable and unengaged employee. If my boss had taken the time to try just one of these I probably would have felt a lot more respected in the workplace, and subsequently been a happier and more productive employee.

Check out how Jostle helped our customers improve their culture!


Kelly Batke

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