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6 Things That You Are Saying That Unexpectedly Promote Employee Disengagement

by robertr

August 12th, 2014
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Small Business Tips to Increase Employee Engagement

As the owner or manager of a small business, you know how devastating turnover can be to your bottom line. It’s not just that hiring a new person costs more than training the folks who do have. It’s that turnover is simply a costly side effect of employee disengagement—meaning your workforce is not operating at its full capacity. According to Dale Carnegie Training research, only 1 out of 4 engaged employees would jump ship to a competitor for a small (5 percent) increase in pay—compared to 74 percent of disengaged workers. Here are 6 things that you should never say to your employees; they instantly slash engagement, spur turnover and put your entire staff’s morale at risk. Take them out of your vocabulary today, and you’ll have a stronger team tomorrow and avoid employee disengagement.

“I don’t have time to talk”
Think about it: a person comes to a small business because they don’t want to be part of a faceless conglomerate. They want to know their co-workers—and that includes their boss. You don’t have to be your employees’ best friend, but asking how your account manager’s son’s soccer game went or how your assistant’s grandmother is feeling after a sudden illness can go a long way towards warding off issues with engagement. In this digital age, it’s easy to do a quick check in by email or instant message, but these still play second fiddle in terms of their effect on engagement as compared to actually stopping by someone’s desk or picking up the phone.

“Thanks for your work”
Surprised to see this phrase on this list? This is a good start, but you need to be way more specific in your praise. At smaller companies, Dale Carnegie Training research found that the “me” was important to employees—they want to see the impact they’re having on the organization for which they work. If they wanted to be a cog in a wheel, they’d be employed by a larger corporation. So instead of “Thanks for your work” say “Thank you for proofreading my national sales presentation so well. The mistake you caught could have cost our company thousands of dollars in new business.”

“We can’t afford training”
The fact of the matter is, you can’t afford not to train your employees. Programs like Dale Carnegie Training can help facilitate communication (on behalf of both managers and employees) and career growth for all workers. Because of this, training programs are key to maintaining engagement. If regular professional training doesn’t fit in your budget, supplement with peer-to-peer training.

“You can’t work from home”
Employees who work for small businesses want to be trusted do their jobs without being micro-managed; they want to work with limited oversight. And while a small business may not be able to compete with a large company in terms of perks like tuition reimbursement, they can often be flexible enough to facilitate an across the board telecommuting policy—which should instantly boost engagement levels and prevent turnover.

“That’s not your job”
Dale Carnegie Training research has found that employees, particularly in small businesses, need to be continuously challenged with new responsibilities and roles. So if an employee comes to you asking to take on something new, by all means encourage it. If you don’t have the capacity to take them off their current assignment to put them on the new one, explain that. You might be surprised at how an employee will stretch to do both if you let them—and the great effect that will have on your success as well as their engagement.

“I love this company”
This is what Dale Carnegie trainers refer to as “walking the talk.” If you are excited about your company or product, your employees will mirror that attitude and behavior. Show them—as well as tell them—how committed you are to them, and to the company. In turn you may see their own commitment grow accordingly.

Click here to download a Free White Paper on the Employee Engagement Best Practices for Smaller Businesses

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  1. Dorah Ngelah /

    What a mind set to build, great then will just continue working on mine. I appreciate greatly