In our last post, we discussed the significant lack of engagement across employee groups and how employees become frustrated. Now, we will take a closer look at how companies can reverse this trend toward high levels of frustration and low levels of productivity among employees.

"In many organizations, there is a significant pocket of frustration among employees and leaders who feel that they are being held back by unnecessary rules or an unsupportive working environment," says Mark Royal, senior principal with the Hay Group in Chicago and co-author with Tom Agnew of "The Enemy of Engagement: Put an End to Workplace Frustration--and Get the Most from Your Employees" (AMACOM). "Getting rid of those barriers and obstacles to performance is a real opportunity for an organization to motivate employees and unleash their energy and creativity. This, in turn, can yield tangible financial benefits for the organization."

Engaging employees is just one part of the process for improving performance. "Companies must not only engage or motivate employees but also enable or support those employees’ strong contributions," says Royal. Doing so can lead to higher revenue growth and lower turnover. Royal states that companies ranking in the top quartile on both engagement and enablement achieve revenue growth that is 4.5 times greater than companies ranking high on engagement alone. In addition, companies that both engage and enable employees have voluntary turnover rates that 54 percent less than their peers.

Royal estimates that frustrated employees make at least 20 percent of the total workforce and that nearly one-third of employees report they do not have the necessary resources and information to successfully do their jobs, which is a frequent precursor to frustration.

Here are four moves companies can take to prevent employee frustration and eventual lack of engagement:

1. Hold managers accountable for removing barriers to employee efforts. If employees don’t have what they need to be successful, they become frustrated. It is up to managers to identify what employees need and provide it, while also removing the barriers to maximum employee effectiveness.

2. Require ongoing performance conversations. Annual reviews and goal setting are not enough to generate the ongoing feedback most employees seek. Royal notes that employees want to understand their impact on the bigger picture and the challenges they must tackle advance in the organization. Instead of annual reviews, he suggests that managers work to improve ongoing conversations about goals, priorities and challenges.

3. Ensure that managers find ways to clear the path to productivity for employees. Even when companies face tight budgets and other resource constraints, it is important to help employees find ways around those constraints to get the job done.

It is important to remember that enabling employees is a prerequisite for engaging those employees. Motivating employees and providing employees with the resources necessary to be successful is the right combination to optimize both employee satisfaction and productivity.