Insights from the Employee Engagement Tweetchat

I recently hosted a tweetchat on employee engagement (to which I invited our employees to join) and had a great conversation about the factors effecting motivation, inspiration, satisfaction, and thus engagement. Below are a few of the key themes that emerged.

Employee satisfaction is a product of fulfillment and actualization

As Daniel Pink said, it’s surprising what motivates us. Studies identified three factors influencing performance: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. It turns out; this same theme came up in our tweetchat. Satisfaction comes from feeling your work has purpose, a purpose that is meaningful to you, not necessarily to anyone else. Understanding the strengths, weaknesses, and interests of your employees then becomes critical. You can’t contribute to their fulfillment and actualization without understanding what drives them.

Recognition means more than you think

The great thing about recognition is that it doesn’t have to be complicated or costly to be effective. It doesn’t have to be monetary. It doesn’t have to be an award. It doesn’t even have to be a thank you. Not that these things aren’t valuable as well. “Recognition can be as simple as asking employees their opinion in working groups,” wrote Senior Managing Consultant, Michael Anton. So while recognition is an important component of developing an individual’s personal esteem, it really encompasses much more than you think.

If engagement is an issue, look at your leadership first

A question leaders should ask themselves is, “Am I creating or enabling barriers to engagement?” Perhaps you are wondering what that really means. As leaders we can create barriers or, at least, enable them by:

  • Not communicating long term and short term goals and how employees fit into those
  • Being closed off, not having an ear to employees needs (or what I call, “Living the open door policy”)
  • Perpetuating a culture that’s not oriented around employees
  • Developing an organizational vision that doesn’t align with employee values

What you do or don’t do as a leader has an impact on employee satisfaction. You should be the first source of motivation and inspiration for your people. If you want engaged employees, who are happy to come to work and excited to take on new projects, then you have to put them first. Your daily mantra needs to include, “how does this impact my employees,” “what will be expected of them,” and “what’s in it for them.”

If you’re not using collaborative tools, now’s the time to start

Collaborative tools are not the answer to employee engagement, but they are great way to add to the employee experience. There is a cultural shift that needs to be responded to, a move from one-sided communication to multi-directional collaboration. “Go where employees engage naturally and communicate with them directly,” wrote Workforce Transformation Consultant, Brittany Thompson. But not only do collaborative tools allow you to have these meaningful conversations with your employees all over the world, they also provide you the opportunity to identify experts and reposition them, which brings us back to helping your employees fulfill their purpose.

 

There is not a single formula for employee engagement. Adding a pool table and a nap room to your office won’t magically transform your workforce. Ultimately though, it’s not about the things, it’s about the people and how you treat them. As author and speaker, Shep Hyken, said during the tweetchat, “My Employee Golden Rule: Treat people you work with the way you want your customers treated, maybe even better.” And as far as employee satisfaction goes, I’d say that’s a great place to start.

Advertisements

What I’m reading now: Employee Communications

More and more, employee communications and engagement is being recognized as a critical function. It is not only vital to any successful communications or marketing campaign; it is also fundamental to organizational performance.

Guest Post: 13 Ways to Inspire Employees From the Employee Perspective

As per Webster’s dictionary, “Inspiration’ is an action or power that moves the intellect or the emotions.” Inspiration leads to discoveries and inventions; Einstein was inspired by a pocket compass at the age of five!

Image source: Google Images

Image source: Google Images

In the midst of technological changes and dynamic environments, what keeps an employee inspired towards analyzing, discovering, inventing and innovating? Consolidating responses from an email survey, I found the following factors to be most significant:

  1. A long term goal: “The world makes way for the man who knows where he is going,” wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson. And an employee who sets a long term goal and has a directional sense of his efforts and achievements is motivated when his employer understands and supports his plan.
  2. Short term goals:  As the old Chinese proverb says, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a small step.” Short term goals are the building blocks for long term goals. Achieving these milestones ingrains confidence and self-belief.
  3. Planning: Good planning provides a clear-sighted vision to the employee. It doesn’t require micromanagement, and employees are able to assess the value of their contributions for a successful delivery.
  4. Challenging work: Challenges sharpen the mind. ‘Smarter Thinking’ happens when intriguing work stimulates the brain cells and improves the decision making ability. Employees yearn for a sense of accomplishment. Those who develop innovative strategies are more curious and marketable than those who do tedious work.
  5. Rewards: Recognition in the form of appreciation notes, monetary and non monetary awards, and verbal encouragement provides positive reinforcement. Looking at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, rewards help employees understand that they are respected by others.
  6. Work environment: An employee spends half of his lifetime at work and work environment makes a big difference. A positive environment is made up of positive leadership, positive thoughts, positive approach, and positive people. Besides healthy competition and intelligent negotiation, cohesiveness and teamwork are very important. Respectful relationships lead to emotional balance and open communication. A supportive team is a strong team. Support from the employer, especially during a personal crisis generates security.
  7. Regular feedback & training: Employees who receive regular feedback have the opportunity to work on their strengths and weaknesses. Easy access to training, reminders and custom course suggestions are a positive catalyst. Negative feedback should be accompanied with learning opportunities and a chance to grow.
  8. Interactions with leaders: If the leaders are accessible, employees feel connected and heard. Valuable employee surveys provide an avenue for voicing their opinions.
  9. Work-Life balance: Helping employees understand how to balance their work hours and providing benefits like flex hour options, healthcare, gym memberships, team lunches, etc. will rejuvenate the employees.
  10. Mentoring: Through mentoring, employees can tap into valuable in-house resources. Employees can become multifaceted through cross-functional and cross-business unit mentoring.
  11. Policies: Streamlined, clearly documented and easily accessible policies encourage employees to stay informed and ask questions.
  12. Equality: All employees must be considered equal. Favoring an employee may de-motivate another employee’s performance. Factual and criteria-based performance evaluations motivate the employees.
  13. Camaraderie: Interactive sessions lead to networking and knowledge sharing. These are especially critical for remote employees.

To me, the most important factor is knowing how my accomplishments are helping the community at large. How am I making a difference? When an employee is encouraged, he performs, but, when an employee is inspired, he excels!

This post was written by Preeti Tikia, IBM Requirements Analyst