Did you know that 95% of engaged employees are happy on Mondays? When you look around your workplace on a Monday, what do you see? From a multitude of possibilities, let’s consider three simple scenarios:
- You may have high engagement levels (how’s your P2M program going?)
- You may have frowns, consistent disengagement and low motivation.
- You may have great, hardworking employees who go about their business unrecognised, which means they will eventually exit in the hope that someone, somewhere else will notice instead.
Fundamentally, we believe employee engagement is about three things; hearts, minds and motivation, with the first two impacting the third. However, there are so many ways to imagine engagement manifesting itself in employees, how do you know where to look and what to measure?
When we tell tales of engagement, we start to hear words like, happiness, enthusiasm, commitment, loyalty, willingness, energy and participation. None of which are easy to monitor. Then there are the different types of engagement; the good and the bad, the transactional and the emotional, all different yet equally hard to influence or eliminate.
Influencing employees; some say it’s a science, meaning that if you give to employees, the rules of reciprocity dictate that they are obliged to give back. It’s a social obligation and how the gift is given makes a difference, the more personal, the better. Plus there are factors such as a sense of working toward a common goal; seeing peers as willing to cooperate and identifying peers who pay out compliments, (especially over good work, followed nicely by a reward). Each of these social indicators helps to identify similarities and agreeable outcomes, drive up motivation and increase engagement.
It seems to just get increasingly complex. Let’s go back to the three keys to engagement: Hearts, minds and motivation:
Open the hearts of employees?
This means connecting on an emotional level, an emotional pull will keep an employee in a job for longer than a wage will. Basically, to rouse emotion you need to show emotion, namely, gratitude. Showing appreciation for work well done is the emotional pull that makes a difference and drives engagement.
Open the minds of employees?
Engagement is not just a game of feeling, employees are smart. There must be a level of logic and sensibility to balance the emotional pull. This can be achieved with a set of goals around what warrants recognition. Specify a clear action and reaction so employees know what to do, why to do it and what happens when they do.
This is the final cog, imagine it as wheels of progress grinding into action, with the emotional connection and the logic behind it providing the energy, leading to motivation, progress and increased productivity.
Is it really that simple? No. That’s actually the short version, there is countless effort required for maintenance and upkeep of programs and initiatives, there are hours of consideration over company values and desired behaviours, what do you want them to be, how do you define them? Creating new habits and developing new cultures is tough and time consuming if you want them to stick, the list is endless. There’s also frequency, because we know it’s about much more than an annual performance review. Engagement efforts need to be continuous, simultaneously ad hoc yet consistent, because people don’t just perform well once a year.
The result is a unique solution, because you cannot take a simple template and apply it to recognition, in the same way that you cannot make rewards “one size fits all”. In fact, the only truly simple thing about an engagement tale is the frown or the smile you expect to see on a Monday morning.
Mark is the General Manager of Power2Motivate APAC, delivering world class employee recognition and B2B loyalty programs to a wide range of clients.