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Should You Be Taking Responsibility for Your Employees’ Passive Attitudes?

Hiring or retaining an employee with an active attitude toward their work doesn’t necessarily guarantee success. But it is critical for you, as a business leader, to understand the difference as you build the most engaged and productive teams possible.

Active vs. Passive Employees

The authors of a recent LinkedIn survey of more than 18,000 full-time employees in 26 countries used the terms “active” and “passive” when referencing workers’ characteristics and attitudes toward their jobs. Among the most notable – and possibly surprising – findings were:

  • Only 52% of active employees said they were satisfied with their work, compared to 80% of passive employees. So, you might conclude that active employees turn into active candidates, seeking new opportunities elsewhere.
  • The motivations of the two varied. Typically, passive employees were driven by higher wages and greater work/life balance, while active ones strove for work environments that fostered growth.
  • Active employees were not always more outgoing. The two groups just wanted different things out of their careers.

How to Manage Passive Employees

Passive employees may be a weak link in your team chain, but this may not be grounds to remove them altogether. Maybe that link just needs to be polished up a bit. Here are some tips for effectively managing passive workers. (Hint: They’re good refreshers for leading all team members, but pay special attention in the case of your more passive workers.)

  • Open up opportunities to them. One reason employees become passive is they don’t feel they have opportunities for progression at your company. Make it part of your succession planning strategy to recruit in-house when you can. You may be pleasantly surprised at the outcome. Then, you can recruit new hires to fill their original role.
  • Actively listen to them. It’s easy to pay attention to the loudest members of a team and spot the shortcomings of those at the weaker end of the scale. Passive employees tend to be in the middle, for reasons including concerns with a project, disheartened emotions or overall disillusionment. Listening to them and addressing their needs makes you a more responsible leader, and can help keep everyone happier and on track.
  • Create tasks for them ahead of time. Passive employees will often find menial tasks to complete, rather than work on larger, more important items with the rest of their team. Resolve this by outlining their duties ahead of time and making them aware of just how much – or how little – time they have to complete them. Work calendars and project management software can be very helpful tools.

Partner With Recruiting In Motion!

Whether it’s backfilling jobs as you promote internally or hiring temporary or permanent employees to meet all your needs, Recruiting In Motion can help. Our workforce development expertise can assist with team building and other strategies to keep everyone performing at peak levels. Contact us today to continue the conversation.

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