Employers urged into action as staff motivation stalls

Don’t be fooled by healthy staff numbers. One report warns that workers may be “quitting in their seats” as engagement levels drop

Australian employers have been told to look out for employees “quitting in their seats” as levels of discretionary effort plummet across the nation’s workplaces.
The recently released CEB Global Talent Monitor for Q2 2016 found that overall levels of discretionary effort have fallen from 21% to 19% over the last quarter. This represents a steady decline from peak levels of around 26% in Q2 2011.
“In the ideal workplace, you’d have highly engaged workers with high intent-to-stay or you’d have the opportunity to trade up if you have disengaged workers with low intent-to-stay,” said Aaron McEwan, HR advisory leader at CEB.
“However, in Australia, we have a mismatch caused by political turmoil and economic uncertainty. This has left most employees afraid to risk a move elsewhere right now.”
This means that a large proportion of workers may be “silently striking” in their seats, which could negatively affect both productivity and business outcomes, he added.
“There is an opportunity for employers to re-engage staff and demonstrate why existing relationships are worth maintaining.”
Amongst Australian employees surveyed in the CEB report, 20% put in a high discretionary effort at work while 43% put in a somewhat high discretionary effort. Thus approximately four in 10 staff members are simply cruising through their jobs.
To rectify this, McEwan suggested that employers should focus on tackling the key drivers for attrition in local firms.
When asked about the most dissatisfying attributes of their previous jobs, those surveyed in the CEB study answered as follows:

  1. People management (47%)
  2. Future career opportunities (44%)
  3. Recognition (37%)
  4. Development opportunity (33%)
  5. Compensation (31%)

The report advised managers to prioritise informal career-pathing discussions in order to rebuild levels of trust and get staff motivated once more.
While conducting these career conversations, senior staff members should:

  • Acknowledge the strengths and positive contributions of employees
  • Help staff build relationships with their peers and management
  • Commit to helping workers meet their career goals
  • Establish clear objectives for both employee and employer
  • Allow staff to better understand the overall goals of the business


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