8 Ways To Prevent Your Staff From Stagnating

by Mark Swartz

Most employees yearn to feel competent in their roles. That means they need to know how to accurately and effectively do the work expected of them, using available resources. Maintainable productivity depends on this contract.

The problem arises when workers become too comfortable. The result is creeping complacency. The risk is that staff will get bored and demotivated, or that workers will stop growing, making them less able to handle new opportunities.

Protecting your staff from this fate may require a combination of methods. These eight are commonly used by both HR and team managers.

1.  Career Planning For Internal Opportunities
Employees like to know there’s a place for them in their employer’s future. That sparks their interest in upgrading skills and knowledge to meet anticipated needs. A well-conceived career plan asks: where do people see themselves in a year, two years, and five years from now? What gaps must be filled (e.g. education, abilities) to meet the employer’s expected requirements? These are the foundation of succession preparations. 

2.  Training 
Learning is an integral part of staving off stagnation. Employers can offer in-house on the job training, as well as in workshops and virtual courses. Education subsidies and conference attendance round out the options. Learning should be tied to upcoming employer needs and the results from career planning.

3.  Investing in Technology
Nothing makes an employee go stale like obsolete technology. Talk about creating a rut. No amount of skills training or career planning compensates for archaic software, operating systems or devices. A budget for regularly updating technology – though not every version release – is essential. 

4.  Providing A Mentor
There are good reasons to match employees with mentors. For one, less experienced workers gain insights from their seasoned counterparts. Navigating the organization’s politics, handling sensitive situations…senior staff members have been there and done that. Knowledge sharing expedites junior employee growth. As well, mentors can keep an eye on their charges; prodding them if the latter start slacking off or inspire them to strive for advancement.

5 – 7.  Job Enhancement
A familiar cause of employee stagnation is the job itself. It might not offer enough stimulation to keep the worker on their toes. Here are three techniques to liven up almost any position. 

5.  Job Enlargement
The most basic way of altering a position is to add more duties at a similar level of skill. This increased number and variety of tasks reduces monotony short-term. Eventually, however, the novelty wears off. Plus extra work doesn’t always come with additional pay. 

6.   Job Enrichment
Enriching a job can really help employee development. What’s involved? Expanding the range of skills needed through stretch assignments and training. Upping the position’s authority. Maybe giving more autonomy too; asking for the person’s input and letting them set some parameters of how and when the work gets done. Of course this necessitates giving additional employee feedback and carefully monitoring progress.

7.  Job Rotation
This approach attempts to create flexible employees who can easily adapt. That’s because the worker has to change jobs throughout their employment at the same firm. Enlisted employees gain wide exposure to the company. But the strategy doesn’t suit all organizations or workers. The amount of retraining required can affect bottom lines and continuity. 

8.  Promote From Within
What use would the above techniques be if there was little room to shift within a firm? Without lateral moves and upward advancement, uncontainable resentments may arise. Employees could lose their motivation to continually improve themselves. Those who don’t might start an exodus of talent. Promoting internal candidates rewards diligent self-development and aids in maintaining staff loyalty.