Re-engage Your Workplace

Photo day, August 30-31, 2017. Photographic Services/Missouri State University

By Lance Coffman, SBTDC Regional Consultant.

Business owners often express difficulty finding qualified employees. This struggle makes sense considering the near-record low unemployment rates (3.7 percent in Missouri at the time of this writing).

Maybe this is a struggle you can relate to. If you don’t have the ability to expand your team, growth is impeded if not halted altogether. Is there any option to manage growth while maintaining a certain level of quality on your staff? Perhaps the answer is not to find the right recruitment source or perfect benefit package. Perhaps the answer rests with your current employees.

In its 2017 State of the American Workplace report, Gallup found that only a third of employees are engaged at work. This means that only a third of employees really enjoy their jobs and actively try to improve the company. The other two-thirds are disengaged. While the level of disengagement may vary, these employees are not motivated to offer their best to your company. Disengagement leads to wasted time, mistakes and ultimately turnover. If employers are able to re-engage their employees, it can lead to increased productivity and an overall happier workplace.

What can business owners do to re-engage employees? There is no magic formula that can fix things overnight, but there are a few steps you can start implementing now.

Communicate the mission of the organization regularly. Team members need to know they are working toward something. They need to know their roles matter. This is true at every level of your organization. Without a purpose, your employees are just working for a paycheck. Gallup found that only 22 percent of respondents strongly agreed that their leadership had a clear direction for the business. Communicate that direction to your employees. Give your team a purpose.

Show employees they are important. It is human nature to value those who value us. When you show your team that they are valuable to the company, they in turn desire to do better. This can be accomplished in many ways. Celebrate the successes of your employees. Give them handwritten notes of appreciation. Ask for their ideas and feedback on projects. Most important, listen to them! Making a little extra effort to value your employees can make a huge difference in their engagement level.

Utilize your employees’ strengths. Every person in your organization has a unique set of strengths. It is much more than just experience or certifications. Each person has particular ways they can best think, work and relate to others. By understanding and utilizing your team members’ strengths, you position them to succeed in your organization. The newfound feelings of success help to re-engage your team.

If you are a business owner who has been struggling with recruitment, consider looking first at your current employees. Re-engaging burnt-out employees is no simple task. It takes intentional effort and clear communication. The end results are likely worth the efforts: higher productivity, lower turnover, higher quality and higher profitability. In addition, engaged employees are often your best resource for recruiting new talent.

These are just a few of the many ways you can start to engage your team. The Missouri Small Business & Technology Development Center has tools and counselors to help your business create a re-engagement plan. Go to for valuable resources or to find a center near you.

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