Companies worldwide are leveraging the power of engaged employees to catapult their organizations to unprecedented levels of performance.
You can, too!
How are these companies doing it? Increasingly they are focusing on an often overlooked part of communication and leadership: understanding employees’ unique motivations. Using proven and yet simple practices to better understand and ultimately engage their employees, these companies are achieving higher levels of productivity, customer satisfaction, profitability and shareholder value.Read More
When it comes to engaging employees, it often boils down to a basic choice...
You can try to engage employees by “lighting a fire under them” ... but all you are likely to get is a very brief uptick in performance before they once again settle into their familiar behavior.
You can engage employees by “building a fire within them” ... but if you do, be prepared—you may be amazed by the new levels of engagement, performance and sustained results that you see!
What Is Employee Engagement?
To fully appreciate employee engagement, it’s important to understand that:
Employee engagement is not the same as employee happiness. Impressive company benefit programs or coveted company perks such as onsite fitness centers and free dry cleaning can create a positive buzz and generate reactions that one might call happiness. However, make no mistake about it—these reactions are not the same as engagement, which runs deeper in individuals and is marked by a high level of commitment to the company’s mission.
Employee engagement is not the same as employee satisfaction. Week in and week out, satisfied employees will “put in their time” but not always offer much more. What’s often missing is the willingness and passion to spot opportunities, seize initiatives, and put in extra time—all vital elements of an engaged workforce.
At its most fundamental level, employee engagement is about creating an environment that inspires individuals to care about their jobs and go the extra mile in contributing to their company’s mission on a daily basis.
How Do You Identify Engaged Employees?
A few tell-tale signs:
Engaged employees care about their company’s mission at a deep emotional level.
Engaged employees don’t merely work for a paycheck, a bonus or a promotion—they work to help accomplish the company’s goals and believe if they do this well that personal rewards will take care of themselves.
Engaged employees willingly, even enthusiastically, work extra hours to get the job done because they believe in the mission.
Engaged employees will roll up their sleeves and do the nitty gritty, “dirty little jobs” without being asked—even if no one is looking—because they believe it’s the right thing to do.
The Research Is Unmistakable: Employee Engagement Is a Winning Strategy
Research studies show that companies that adopt employee engagement strategies consistently outperform those that don’t. These results hold for all performance measures including higher shareholder returns.
- A study by Towers Watson shows that companies with lower engagement scores had an operating margin of under 10% while those with higher engagement scores had an average operating margin of 27%.
- A study by Accenture involving 28,800 employees across 15 countries concludes that engaged employees positively affect productivity, retention, customer service and profitability levels.
Whichever Way You Look at It, Employee Engagement Delivers
Properly and fully implemented, employee engagement can unleash a surge of energy that can galvanize an organization and power it to greater achievement. Think of it as a domino effect:
- Employees who are engaged drive greater levels of productivity, quality and customer service, which...
- Drive higher levels of customer experience, satisfaction and retention, which...
- Drive more sales, which...
- Drives increased profitability!
What Great Companies Have in Common
When one thinks of great companies and employee engagement, certain names often come up right away: Southwest Airlines, Whole Foods, Nordstrom’s, Starbucks and Zappos, to name a few.
What is it that makes these companies great? Well, we made a discovery: Each one of these companies meets the legitimate needs of their employees in cultivating employee engagement.
What are these legitimate needs? There are physical needs like your desk and your laptop. There are financial needs, such as your salary, bonus structure, profit sharing and 401K. And there are emotional needs. While this latter area is not “rocket science,” it can be very challenging but ultimately rewarding as it is the key to unleashing the power of employee engagement.
Emotional needs are the “feelings” part of every individual; everyone has them. Each employee needs self-realization or validation for who they are; they need a relationship with their leader and their co-workers. They need focus on inspiring trust. They need candor. They need clear expectations. And, finally, they need real recognition.
It is our mission to teach leaders how to GIVE and RECEIVE credit for all they do. And we believe it is more powerful to first give credit to individuals for who they are, and then for what they do. Everything we do is focused around the emotional needs of the workforce. We have made it our cause; it is the reason why we exist. And, the results are powerful.
Servant Leadership—a Key Factor in Igniting Employee Engagement
Servant Leaders treat each individual as a unique person. They are strict but fair while also requiring complete accountability, and they strive to meet the legitimate needs of those they lead. They believe employees must believe in the leader before they will engage and believe in the mission.
Servant Leaders also believe they must succeed in the workplace before they can succeed in the marketplace. As a result, they are driven to create a culture that fosters employee engagement, as they know that engaged employees care deeply about their jobs and are quick to go the extra mile to contribute to the mission of the company in helping it succeed.
Understanding Employee Motivations
Treating an individual as unique means understanding their emotional needs, including their driving motivations and how they want to be treated. Most companies succeed in meeting employees’ financial and physical needs; they struggle with emotional needs.
Emotional needs have multiple aspects; the most critical ones include:
- Self awareness - validation for who you are
- Relationships with your co-worker and your leader
- Trust - a focus on inspiring trust
- Candor - honest communication in a safe place
- Clear expectations - of self and the mission
- Being heard - after giving feedback, there is follow-through
- Receiving credit first for who you are, then for what you do—real recognition!
A Tool for Generating Sustained Employee Engagement
Now back to the “rocket science.” While meeting the emotional needs of a workforce can seem overwhelming and complex, we have made it simple. We have developed the About Me Card system to help individuals improve their communication with one another using a 1-2-3 process while also holding each other accountable. This system starts by identifying each person’s unique motivations; a simple process that takes about 10 minutes. It is a survey, not a psychological profile.
The About Me Card is used as an interpersonal communication tool to express motivational strengths and to reveal how an individual wants to be treated. The AboutMeCard.com website is an account-based, membership site which utilizes the main account system to facilitate the creation, management and interaction capabilities of the About Me Card program. There is an internal program that guides leaders through a process to communicate, build trust and provide feedback to leadership—all essential steps in laying the groundwork for employee engagement!Create your About Me Card FREE