Rules of Employee Engagement: What really keeps your workers motivated?

Posted by | August 25, 2016 | Mosaic Blog

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Employee engagement has become such a hot topic that great swarms of consultants and authors are undoubtedly banging on your door as we speak, armed with enough action plans and PowerPoint presentations to make your head swim. Whom to trust? What to believe?

Paul Keegan writes about 5 rules of employee engagement:

Rule 1: Don’t Sweat Anonymous Reviews
If your employees are already disgruntled, throwing too many perks at them may only create a culture of entitlement. So don’t sweat the negative reviews too much–and don’t dress up your Glassdoor page with lots of expensive content. It will only make people wonder what you’re trying to hide.

Rule 2: Discover Your Company’s Purpose
An important turning point for employee engagement experts came with Daniel H. Pink’s Drive. The 2009 book argues that while it’s important to pay employees well, most carrot-and-stick motivators don’t work in the long term, because people get so fixated on the reward that they lose interest in the activity itself. What we really want in our jobs, Pink writes, is autonomy, the chance to get better at what we do, and a purpose that connects us to something larger.

Rule 3: Survey, But Keep It Short and Follow Up

One reason measuring employee engagement is so difficult is there is no consensus on what the term means, exactly. Gallup says it describes people who are “psychologically committed to their jobs and likely to be making positive contributions to their organizations.” But Gerst maintained that it is statistically impossible to accurately predict outcomes like productivity, profitability, sales, absenteeism, and accident rates on the basis of employee-engagement numbers, despite the claims of Gallup and others.

So what’s an entrepreneur to do? In short, follow the example of the Nerdery: Survey your employees if you need to get a handle on how they feel, but don’t spend a lot of money, make it short, and ask the right questions.

Rule 4: There Is Only So Much You Can Do
There’s a limit to how much “fun” is good for a company–and its employees. Studies show that while team-building events and public celebrations can decrease turnover, they can also harm productivity. And playing games in the workplace can have a positive effect, but only if the workers want to participate; perhaps not surprisingly, “mandatory fun” has been shown to reduce productivity and job satisfaction.
In other words, it’s OK to acknowledge that some problems are beyond a boss’s control. “One thing entrepreneurs should not worry about is trying to engage everyone,” says MacPherson. “It’s perfectly acceptable to write off the employees who will never buy in.”

Rule 5: Actually, Don’t Worry About Engagement
After decades of rapid growth, the field of employee engagement is now suffering a well-deserved backlash. Though big consulting firms have been sounding the alarm about disengaged workers for more than 30 years, today 79 percent of businesses are seriously worried about engagement and retention, according to Deloitte. Globally, only 13 percent of employees are highly engaged, says Gallup. So if employee-engagement programs are so effective, why are so many workers still checked out?
So don’t worry about employee engagement. Instead, treat people well, listen to them, and give them room to grow. Don’t do that just to squeeze more productivity out of them–they’re smart enough to see that coming–but because it’s the right thing to do. And if your heart is in the right place, they’ll see that too.

Read the full article by Paul here.

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