If we have heard it once, we have heard it a million times: a comment by an HR staffer to the effect that the company does not care about a certain employee who left because that employee did not care about his/her job. In such situations, it is hard to decide whose attitude is more disconcerting. It's not uncommon for employees to not care about their jobs. But should the employer care that an employee does not?
Managers and HR personnel alike are familiar with the numerous studies showing that employees who care about what they do are more productive, more engaged, and more loyal. Natural human tendencies prove the same point even without research data. People who care about what they do tend to put more effort into it, regardless of whether it is work, hobbies, or leisure activities. When you don't care, it shows.
It should be the goal of every manager to foster a work environment that encourages employees to care about what they do. And among those who don't care, it's up to managers to try and change the dynamic. Creating employees who care transcends payroll processing, generating sales leads, and just about every other aspect of day-to-day business.
Give Employees Freedom
One of the worst things an employer can do in trying to foster employees who care is micromanage. People simply do not like having supervisors constantly looking over their shoulders, dictating every moment of the work day. If you want to create employees who care, give them the freedom to do their jobs.
Rather than micromanaging, a better way to go about things is to give team members a list of tasks that need to be completed and a deadline for completing them. Then allow them the freedom to do whatever they need to do to get the job done. Trust that workers can fend for themselves and most of them will.
Set Clear Goals and Expectations
Employees who never know what is expected of them will eventually develop a laissez-faire attitude. They will have no need to care because they are not expected to do anything concrete. You can combat this by setting clear goals and expectations. Furthermore, you must hold employees to those goals and expectations. Those who do not meet them must be dealt with so that those who do are further incentivized to keep doing so.
Seek Team Member Input
Employees who do not seem to care about their jobs often feel as though their employers don't care about them or what they think. This sort of dynamic is rather easy to turn on its head simply by soliciting genuine input from team members. Set up a suggestion box and then reward employees who make actionable suggestions. Conduct employee surveys; ask them how the company could do things better; foster an environment of collaboration between team members and management.
Treat Employees Fairly
In our effort to treat employees equally, we often forget the idea of fairness. For example, it is unfair to take certain privileges away from the entire staff just because one or two members violated company policy. Hold violators responsible for their conduct and allow the rest of the team to continue enjoying the privileges. Equality and fairness can coexist on the same plane.
Our role as a payroll and benefits administration provider gives us plenty of opportunity to work with companies with varying turnover rates. We have observed that companies whose employees truly care about their jobs do a better job of retaining those employees. Thus, it behooves employers to create employees who care about what they do.