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How to Keep Your Employees From Checking Out

These few simple things go a long way towards employee satisfaction and retention.

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While every company relies on strong leadership to help it forge forward like a ship cutting through rough and stormy waters, if your employees aren’t fully engaged in their work, you may still sink.

Engaged employees are employees who not only care about their job functions and output, but are also willing to go the extra mile. They don't just go through the motions, but take their job to heart, almost as if the they work for were their own.

So what can you do to keep your most highly skilled employees from checking out until they’re actually ready to retire? Here are seven options to consider.

Identify their motivators

One problem that exists with regard to keeping employees engaged is that everyone is different. In other words, what motivates one person doesn’t necessarily motivate another. This can make it extremely difficult to come up with engagement strategies that will work company-wide.

To overcome this obstacle, it helps to take the time to learn what motivates each of your staff. If you’re a small company, this is relatively easy. If you’re not, enlist the help of your management to talk to employees or send an internal survey. 

Find out what makes them happy about their job and motivates them to want to do better. It’s equally as important to inquire about the things they don’t like that tend to bring them down since addressing these issues can help increase engagement as well.

Related: 5 Brain Hacks to Boost Your Motivation

Consider their ideas

Imagine having an idea that you are fairly certain will cure cancer or some other incurable disease, only to have scientists not even consider it before telling you no and advising you that they’re going to continue to do their research the way they always have. Demotivating, right?

When you have this same type of response to employees who have ideas, it has the same effect. If you shut employees down and are unwilling to listen to their input, it keeps them from excelling in their positions. 

Hearing employees when they have ideas about how to improve processes or reduce costs is also important for their motivation. They may have come up with a new and innovative way to solve some of your biggest issues, but you’ll never know if you don’t open your ears and listen.

Give employees some power

In business, managers and high-ranking leaders are able to make a majority of the decisions, not only about day-to-day operations, but also about where the company will go in the future. Giving just a little bit of this power to other top members of your staff is one way to keep them from checking out.

The more control workers feel they have, the more ownership they have of their final work product. The more ownership they have, the more willing they are to do whatever it takes to get the work done, and to get it done well.

Related: Jeff Bezos Says Amazon Has to Treat Its Employees Better

Offer performance incentives (and this doesn’t have to mean just cash)

Another way to motivate your employees to continue to do their best is to offer performance incentives. Sure, if you can afford it, you can always make it a financial such as a bonus or gift card if a certain target is reached. But they don’t always have to involve spending cash.

You could start an employee-of-the-month program, for instance. But if the award continuously goes to the same few people, there will be no real incentive for other staff to try because they’ll feel that it is rigged. This can drop company morale even lower, having the opposite effect of the one you’re working so hard to create.

Let them have some fun

Employees can work at Disneyland — the “happiest place on earth” — and still have a job that feels monotonous or boring. Ultimately, when they're unchallenged or simply trying to get through the day, it is going to show up in their final product, as well as in their interactions with customers.

On the flip side, if they find their work environment fun, exciting even, they look forward to going in every day. This gives them an entirely different attitude, one that is promoting and welcoming, enticing more people to want to do business with the company. 

Some staff also find it fun to give to others. To keep these employees from checking out, you could set up a fundraiser for a local charity or participate in a local charitable event as a team. Even if the fun is after hours, your employees will likely bring their happiness back to work the following the day.

Related: Want to Be Successful? Have Fun. Seriously.

Be fruitful (yet honest) with your praise

If you have a child and never praise them, what happens? They give up even trying, right? Worse yet, sometimes they act out negatively because some attention is better than no attention at all.

Neither of these scenarios is good, but the same type of thing happens all of the time in the workplace. Some employers feel that paying their staff is enough. After all, they’re doing what they were hired to do, so why should they receive a pat on the back on top of it?

Does this mean that you should go around and hand out atta-boys to all your staff, even if they don’t deserve it? Not at all. If your praise isn’t genuine, you aren’t going to make someone feel more significant. In fact, you’ll likely make them feel insignificant instead.

Share customer accolades

It’s also motivating to employees when you share positive things your customers have to say, especially if those comments mention a specific person. 

Sometimes these positive comments come from customers who contact the company on their own because they want to share how grateful they are for how a situation was handled or talk about employees who went the extra mile. Share this with the individual and, as long as he or she is comfortable with it, the team as a whole. Recognize his or her actions in a way that makes him or her feel like a valuable member of the staff.

When you can keep your employees from checking out, your ship will sail more smoothly, even during stormy times.