Who Cares? Building Staff Engagement That Builds Business Results

A guest blog by Sam North, Founder, Inflection Point Coaching & Consulting

Am I right in guessing that you think these two sentiments are true? The best way to get better results from someone is to reward their good behavior more, and the best way to iron out problems is to pull them up on their bad behavior – Right?

Wrong.

It’s time to completely reconsider what you think you know about motivating your team. Whilst we know that providing the right tools or a pleasant environment creates better productivity, and that feedback is certainly vitally important, in most cases our understanding of the basic psychology of how to engage our employees is way off.

But why does staff engagement even matter? Quite simply, with markets in flux across the board, now is a more important time than ever to get your team motivated to perform at peak ability – you and your leadership team simply can’t know every answer and be everywhere at once.

Let me stress something early on – staff engagement isn’t something to invest time in simply because it’s a nice thing to do for employees. It’s a smart business decision which, done well, leads to improved results.

And don’t just take my word for it – Explori has started measuring this (which is being wholly endorsed and supported by tfconnect) and Richard Kensett, Explori’s Commercial Director had this to say:

“’What is it like to work here?’  It’s a question that is acknowledged to be of significant importance to both staff and employers alike. But for things to be truly important, they must be measured.

We’ve been conducting event industry-specific employee engagement projects for a few years after requests from clients. Explori is working towards event industry benchmarks for our four pillars of employee experience including metrics for culture, loyalty, advocacy and satisfaction, and we’re diving deep into the data to better understand how they impact the workforce.”

Note: Explori have had some great feedback so far on a client-by-client basis after some insightful projects but need more forward-thinking organisers who want to have their finger on the pulse of employee experience to build benchmarking data.

Get in touch directly with Richard here if you want to find out more!

Quick facts:

  • We’ve got a long way to go: As a study by Gallup found that only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged at work, 63% are not engaged, and fully 24% are actively disengaged. No wonder getting results is tough
  • Money isn’t everything: Impromptu cash incentives does not inspire employees to do their best creative work. In fact, studies from research college MIT show that the higher the incentive, the worse the productivity
  • Retention is better than cure: Good staff engagement means a lower staff turnover, saving you money, time and loss of company knowledge. Read my article on staff retention here for more on this 

So… what does motivate workers?

Whilst money isn’t everything it is of course a motivator as a basic need. The trick is to pay people enough money that they don’t need to worry about it at all. When that happens your staff can fully focus on is the job at hand without worrying about bills, school fees, mortgages and so on.

Aside from being financially healthy, there are three key factors in driving staff engagement higher.

Autonomy

Autonomy is the need to be self-directed, or to have control of our own lives. Who doesn’t want autonomy, when you put it like that? By trusting your employees you’ll find that what you get back is far greater than the ‘control’ you gave up.

So how can you introduce a bit of autonomy to your business? You can start as small as introducing flexible work hours. Or try something bolder – Australian software giants Atlassian introduced 1 day a quarter where workers could work on any project they so desired. The results? They ended up software fixes they hadn’t been able to crack for months, solid creative ideas for new products and all without any ‘planning’.

Give your staff your trust and they will give you their all.

Mastery

Mastery is the desire to constantly improve our skills, simply because we want to get better. We all do this in our personal life, whether it’s playing football every Saturday or learning to play the guitar. No money is involved in mastery, it’s simply challenging workers with new tasks and developing their skills so they don’t become complacent and bored.

This could be anything from supporting them to achieve an accreditation in their discipline, giving them flexibility to study outside of work, or even encouraging them to lead an in-house training session for other members of staff.

Purpose

Why does having a business purpose matter? Very simply, if the business doesn’t know its purpose is then neither do its employees, leading to wasted effort and conflict. As soon at staff start thinking “what’s the point in all this?” the service / productivity / creativity decreases – and we all know if these things fall flat, our customers become unhappy and the P&L suffers too.

Gallup draw a great distinction between purpose and Mission Statement or Vision here , and my recent article on Coaching Culture also has some ideas on ways to keep your conversations on ‘Why’ with your teams, and getting them to take ownership for ‘How’. Take a read here.

Organisations with a clearly defined, and frequently reinforced purpose find that not only does their staff engagement rate increase, they also attract better talent who share their values and understand the ‘bigger picture’.

Discover more…

If this has caught your attention, I would highly recommend watching this 10-minute video by RSA Animate and adapted from a talk given by Dan Pink, which illustrates what really motivates us in the workplace.

If you’d like to discuss any points with me, I’d be more than happy to hear from you and you can contact me at Inflection Point Coaching and Consulting.

 

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