So how can you tell if your workforce has quit in their seat(s)? It can be difficult to diagnose, because most of the time, everything looks fine on the surface, Kropp says. Employees are still coming to work every day, and work's still being completed. Projects are still coming in on time. What's important from a manager's perspective are the answers to two critical questions: What motivates this person to work hard? And why does this person work here instead of at another company?
"If you aren't able to answer those questions, then it's entirely possible you're dealing with some serious disengagement. Of course, this involves knowing exactly who your employees are, and what their values and their motivations are," Kropp says.
Technology solutions can also help track employees' engagement by monitoring when they check their email, log into certain networks and applications, and can also track other behavioral metrics, says Karen Hsu, vice president of marketing at digital motivation platform Badgeville.
"We've been able to infer from our own observations that the people most engaged tend to be those that give feedback to colleagues on intranet posts, on articles, projects within project management tracking systems -- that kind of thing," Hsu says. It's when employees go quiet on corporate collaboration and tracking solutions that you might have a problem, she notes.
What can you do if you notice these signs? Understanding what truly motivates your workforce, especially younger employees, is crucial, says Kropp. In the absence of upward mobility, giving workers the opportunity to move laterally so they can work on new projects, in new departments and gain varied skills can be a great start.
"For a lot of millennials and younger workers, having different kinds of experiences and learning distinct skills can help a lot. Move people into different roles, start to look at how their skills can translate in other areas of the company and build a robust internal job market," he says.
The gift of time
You also can give your workforce the gift of time if you can't budget for raises or bonuses. Allowing people to work flexible hours, from home or from remote locations can be a huge motivator and can engender greater engagement and loyalty, he says.
"The more you can offer flexibility and freedom within their own schedule -- and within the constraints of their role -- the better. They'll feel that you truly care about their lives both at work and their personal lives," Kropp says.
Another especially effective tactic seems counterintuitive. It involves having a candid conversation with your employees about what the labor market has to offer external to your company. In other words, what their options are in another role at a different organization.
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