Great organizations understand that employees are motivated by more than money. Take a fresh look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, and we are quickly reminded that importance, recognition, and respect are very close to the top of the pyramid, while safety, both economic and physical, is just above survival. So, what are the keys to unlock these higher feelings of employee esteem across an organization?
1. Time it right. On-the-spot or in-the-moment rewards are more highly valued than those based on calendar dates or anniversaries, often regardless of size. Empower your leadership team with the tools and capacities to reward as soon as that significant accomplishment is achieved
2. Make it personal. Everyone is different, and employees are not all motivated by the same type of reward. Money may be valued by some, but time off with family/spouse/partner may have a higher value. Even a personal call from the CEO may be the ticket to a significant and impactful recognition. Ensure that any reward closely aligns with how the employee perceives value. Misalignment can negate your good intent or can even cause a backfire.
3. Delivery is critical. When it comes to granting rewards, do it in person. Leaders need specific communication skills to properly and effectively deliver rewards. Be sure your leaders are coached and trained to deliver the best possible message.
4. Be consistent. A great and inspiring rewards program isn’t haphazard. Employees notice. An effective program is carefully crafted around consistent principles and practices across and up and down the organization. It is fair, balanced and one which the leadership team embraces understands and implements consistently.
5. Be strategic. Rewarding effort and/or results are often a point of contention in many organizations. Balancing between the two can be difficult for your leadership team. What is important is that any reward needs to link to the company’s goal and culture. When employees understand the company’s mission and its values, rewards programs, even variable compensation plans, will motivate employees to consistently push that discretionary effort harder in the right direction for the entire business.
Do your employees know your business strategy? Can each employee share with a client prospect or potential employee the purpose of your business? According to a recent Gallup Poll, 87 percent of employees are not engaged at work, which means they are not connected with your culture and are not putting in discretionary efforts toward meeting your company’s strategy or goals. They are passive candidates, and ripe for the picking. You may look around your organization and say, “Not my company, we are doing great.” But that may not match reality. Here’s how you can tell if you have good employee engagement strategy:
1 . Open Conversation or Culture of Whispers
Walk around. When you see people in the office talking, are their doors closed or open? When you walk past do conversations stop? Management needs to take the lead to foster open communication. If you keep your doors closed and avoid transparency, so will the rest of the company. Engaged employees talk to each other and seek feedback from their managers without fear. They are open to communication and promote it. You need to set the tone.
2. Positive Experiences or Negative Ones
Engaged employees share positive experiences and want to foster them for their colleagues, teams, and managers. They want to promote better ways of doing things and create reward and recognition programs to celebrate successes and reinforce great work. Employees who are not engaged complain not just about big things but also little ones, and want to bring other things into their circle of unhappiness. There is always a squad, but if the squad is in a negative loop the squad will move to a place where they’ll be happier, together. It’s hard to get out of any habit, and you as a leader need to help create a positive experience. Get to the heart of why there is a negative loop. It will take more than donuts and foosball tables.
Everyone needs a purpose, otherwise, a job is just a job, and that can be done anywhere. If your company does not have a clearly articulated purpose, or Mission, Vision and Values (MVV) statement, and if every employee does not know the purpose, then you do not have engaged employees. They need to know why they are at your company, otherwise, they are at risk. Talk to us about our 3-day MVV workshops. We can help you.
4. Connected Culture
A connected culture is critical to success because it gives them the feeling they are part of the unique thumbprint of the company, and helps them feel supported. It represents the relationship each employee has with the company, to their team, and to the business. That is the connection. This is both the opportunity and the pitfall. Connected cultures develop supportive and collaborative relationships. When people feel connected, they give discretionary effort at work and align their goals to their leaders’ goals. Would you say your company has a connected culture? For more about this please read HELPING YOUR ORGANIZATION REACH ITS GOALS: THE ROLE OF CULTURE IN ENGAGEMENT
5. The 2 R’s: Retention and Referrals
These are pretty easy ways to measure engagement. When you have job openings, are people referring their friends? What percentage of hires are coming from internal referrals? Are they going up or down year over year? Do open roles get filled internally? How is your retention rate? Measuring your turnover year over year will also give you an idea of how engaged a workforce you have.
Rewarding and encouraging your workforce is key to engaged employees and cultivating a connected culture. Sometimes you need to start with strategic intent and define your MVV and develop an open communication plan to support where you want your company to be. Once you know if you have an engaged workforce then we can partner together to develop a smart program that works amplify your organization’s employee experience and meets your goals! A sound employee engagement strategy will drive improved business results.