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.