Rethinking employee engagement: 3 tips to get on trackBy David Priemer on September 9, 2010 in Thought Leadership
Employee engagement is not simply the goal, but the means by which people and organizations are able to innovate, differentiate, and ultimately serve their clients.
This was the take-away from my conversation with a manager at one of the world’s largest consulting firms after a recent organizational health survey revealed that employee engagement was low. This revelation should have come as no surprise since a recent study on employee engagement by Mollie Lombardi of the Aberdeen Group revealed that organizations with best-in-class employee engagement have double the customer satisfaction/loyalty rates of average performers.
Shortly after that conversation, I moderated a panel on designing a social businesses at ConnectIT Conference, where we explored how organizations can use social media to drive employee engagement.
After all these discussions, one thing has become abundantly clear to me: the notion of “driving” engagement is absolutely backwards.
You can’t make an employee be engaged any more than you can make the girl who sits across from you in geography class fall in love with you.
Who’s responsibility is it?
HR blogger Laurie Ruettimann states that employee engagement is a misnomer. She suggests renaming it “operational excellence”, which doesn’t blow my skirt up, but I do agree that engagement starts with organizations thinking about what THEY can do to unlock their people’s desire to be engaged. To help their people find meaning in their work and and to use meaning as a way to motivate (as fellow Ryppler Tiho said in recent book review of The Art of the Start, “meaning is a motivator like no other”).
Paul Hebert knows a lot about this topic. As a Fistful of Talent blogger and principle author of Incentive Intelligence, Paul’s spoken on engagement many times. He recently pointed out that employees shouldn’t be passive participants in the engagement equation. They need to contribute by speaking up, being positive, and bringing new ideas to the table. Still, these are downstream artifacts of an organization whose environment serves as fertile ground.
Successful game developers have been nailing this concept for years. People buy games because they want to satisfy their desire for role-playing, problem solving, and competitive engagement…but it’s the responsibility of the developer to deliver.
The best companies make it happen!
in a world where customers wake up every morning asking, “what’s new, what’s different and what’s amazing?” success depends on a company’s ability to unleash the initiative, imagination and passion of employees at all levels.
Here are 3 suggestions for unlocking your people’s desire to be engaged:
- Give them cool stuff to work on: a recent survey on employee motivation by McKinsey & Company revealed that opportunities to lead projects or task forces was seen as a more effective motivator than any financial incentive. Interesting projects not only engage people, but also force them to step up and bring their best game.
- Recognize their accomplishments: recognition is a huge motivator because it correlates our actions to a positive outcome. It also keeps us striving to replicate the rush we feel when someone tells us we did a good job. If you want your people to be engaged, help them and others see the impact their work is having.
- Ask them for input: your team has TONS of ideas for driving your business forward that don’t get surfaced because we simply don’t ask. Solution: get in the habit of asking for feedback! Promote creativity and the free flow of ideas, and engagement will follow.