Frustration factored in?

This article is brought to you by our sponsor HayGroup.

Ben Hubbard, commercial director, EMEA region at Hay Group, says that managers should be aware that it is often the most engaged staff who are the most frustrated within an organisation

How would you describe the ideal employee? Most of us would think of someone who believes in the company and its vision, who is excited and energised by both organisational and personal goals and objectives, and who is eager to help the organisation succeed. In short, someone who is fully engaged.

But recent Hay Group Insight research shows that it is often employees like this who are among the most frustrated within their organisations. Why? Because they don’t feel productive themselves.

For employers, this is an opportunity missed. Hay Group’s Insight research indicates that frustrated employees may represent 20% or more of the total workforce. That, in turn, means as much as 20% of the workforce feels they could be contributing more and performing better.

However, lack of support from the organisation and its leadership makes success hard to achieve. And unless things change, many of those employees will either stop trying or leave, both of which are potentially damaging to an organisation.

To get the most from engaged employees, organisations must position them to channel their extra efforts productively. That is, the motivation to contribute has to be matched with the ability to contribute.

There are two key components here. The first, personal utilisation, requires that employees are effectively matched to their roles, so their skills and abilities are effectively put to good use.

The second, an enabling environment, involves structuring work arrangements so that they facilitate, rather than hinder, individual productivity. Employees are supported by processes, procedures, and resources (such as information, technology, equipment and financial support) that aid them to get the job done, so they can focus on their most important accountabilities without having to work around obstacles in the form of non-essential tasks or procedural red tape. They have clear goals and are empowered to make the decisions they need to make.

As our research makes clear, it is this kind of support that can turn engagement into effective performance and increased job satisfaction. To borrow a line from the film Jerry Maguire, engaged employees seem to be saying to organisational leaders: “help me help you”. So put them in roles that leverage their skills and abilities, and allow them to do what they do best. Give them the tools, technology, information, support, and other resources they need to be effective. And finally (and perhaps most importantly) get out of their way.

There are five keys steps to reducing employee frustration. Firstly, recognise that a lack of support for staff is a significant business issue. Secondly, identify where support may be particularly important and/or is likely to be lacking. Monitor support levels on an ongoing basis to give the frustrated employee a voice, and address aspects of the working environment that are creating frustration as part of managerial training. Finally, pinpoint broader organisational programmes and initiatives that are out of alignment with key support drivers.

After all, if you are lucky enough to have engaged employees, isn’t it time you listened to what they want?

The views and opinions in this article are those of our sponsor, HayGroup, and do not necessarily reflect those of

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