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Even Star Employees Become Disengaged If Not Managed Properly

Imagine your most loyal and engaged employee. Whatever you do, don't take this employee for granted. According to new research, if you fail to manage your star employees properly, they quickly can become disengaged.

"Engaged employees work harder, are more creative and more committed, and they represent an important predictor of company productivity," said Wayne Hochwarter, Ph.D., the Jim Moran Professor of Business Administration in the Florida State University College of Business. He added, however, that "even model employees can 'give up' if they sense that they're being asked to do more and more, and with fewer resources, while comparatively little is being asked of their less-engaged colleagues."

Hochwarter surveyed 1,000 employees in both blue- and white-collar occupations to gain a clearer picture of the concept of employee engagement, its benefits for employers and its possible dangers when not managed well.

According to the study results, engaged employees reported a 50 higher rate of job satisfaction; a 45 percent higher rate of job performance; and a 30 percent higher rate of commitment to their employer.

The challenge, however, lies in keeping those employees engaged. Hochwarter's findings clearly illustrate that engaged workers, without needed company support and other resources, can begin to exhibit a number of undesirable attitudes and behaviors:

· A decline in helping behavior (50 percent lower);
· Increased anger at supervisors (35 percent higher);
· A view that expectations are beyond one's capabilities (33 percent higher);
· Additional stress (30 percent higher); and
· Lower overall productivity (25 percent lower).

Maintaining Engagement

Hochwarter offered several tips for organizations working to keep their workers engaged:

"First, understand that getting employees engaged isn't like flipping a switch," he said. "Often, it takes a while for engagement to kick in, but it can be lost in only one incident. Second, realize that once-engaged employees who are now disengaged can cause more harm to a company than those who were never engaged.

"Third, getting employees engaged is like planting a tree: If you walk away from it, it's unlikely to grow. And finally, many leaders feel that managing engaged workers is easier than managing those who are not engaged. This is simply not the reality in most companies," he concluded.

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