Not too long ago, I invited a bunch of people to a get together. Thanks to my compulsive nature, I checked the responses daily and happily noticed the small, eager group of people who immediately said “yes,” but frustrated with the vast number of others who said “maybe,” and even more frustrated with the people I never heard from at all.
I get it. We live in a world of many choices. People are often hesitant to “commit” when they aren’t sure what’s in it for them.
It occurred to me that you find this same behavior when it comes to employee engagement. There is a small number employees who are highly engaged, a smaller number of those who are disengaged, but then a vast number of employees who are just contributing (there, but not there). In fact, in the United States, only 22% of the workforce are engaged, 68% are not engaged, and 11% are disengaged. (Towers Perrin’s Global Workforce Study)
Why don’t people respond? What stops them from saying “yes”? And more importantly, how do you motivate individuals to respond?
In personal life, this is called fear of commitment. In business, this is fear of engagement.
As a business, you want your employees to respond yes, whether that be to an actual event or to performing their role within your organization. An engaged employee doesn’t hesitate to say “Yes”. A moderately disengaged employee says “Maybe.” And a fully disengaged employee says “No.” So what does a company need to do in order to motivate its “Yes, No’s and Maybe’s?”
Employee Value Proposition
Well, for starters, it begins with the employee value proposition (EVP). Any good relationship, whether personal or business, is based on reciprocity. Because of the growing demands of today’s world, it only makes good business sense for an organization to make sure its employees are “getting out” from their company an equal amount to what they are “putting in.”
Ask yourself when was the last time you reviewed your EVP assets? And how long ago were they developed? If it’s been a while, you really need to make it a point to review all your internal and external EVP communication tools and ask the following questions:
- Does your EVP clearly reflect the current employment experience?
- Do your direct line managers understand your EVP and do they know how to execute on it effectively?
- How inspiring is your welcome pack for new hires? How does it differentiate our employment offering? Moreover, what is the onboarding experience like?
- Do you deliver on what you are promising in your recruitment efforts?
- How effective is your social media strategy – are you humanizing and giving insight into your company or are you merely broadcasting about your products and services?
- How authentic is your messaging?
- Does the tone, style and imagery of your communication assets properly convey your brand?
- Do your direct line managers understand your EVP and know how to execute on it effectively?
Motivating the YES’s
This may seem unnecessary to you. If an employee is already motivated and engaged, why pay further attention to them? In short, don’t make your employees regret that they came to the “party” once they get there. Make sure they want to stay and remain engaged. On the flip side, you also don’t want your highly engaged employees to burnout. Develop engaged employees as models of emotional and social intelligence, so they inspire others to also become fully engaged.
- Utilize the talent. Employees not only need to have the opportunity to use their skills and abilities at work, but also need to have a place to showcase skills and abilities beyond the position for which they have been hired.
- Identify job specific training that will extend their core competencies.
- Provide on-the-job learning experiences. Invite your highly engaged employees to meetings or to participate in projects that will challenge them. Give them something to work on outside of their standard projects.
- Look for cross-training opportunities.
- Stretch them through performance goals and other opportunities to use skills beyond what is required for their day to day.
Motivating the NO’s
If your employees simply refuse to accept your invitation to become engaged, it’s time to assess whether or not they should be on the invite list at all. But depending on your company’s industry, size, current market position, competition, location, staff composition, or other factors, you may have a relatively easy or impossibly difficult time in fixing or eliminating the problem. Union contracts, local labor laws, diversity, and/or tenure designations can often make the elimination of actively disengaged employees a challenge. (Disengaged Employees Cost the Company Money, Kelly Services). Not doing anything costs your company even more money.
- Explore the reasons behind the disconnect to determine if coaching or other interventions are appropriate.
- Carefully determine if disengagement is a result of events in their personal life. Provide employee assistance as much as possible.
- Be prepared to transition the employee out if it is better for the organization and the employee overall.
Motivating the MAYBE’s
Your biggest and toughest audience are the employees who either reply “Maybe” or don’t reply at all. Those who are performing, but not excelling in their jobs. For the Maybe’s, the role of the direct manager is crucial to motivating and engaging these employees. In fact, two of the top five contributors to employees’ job satisfaction were relationship with immediate supervisor and communication between employees and senior management. The relationship employees have with their direct managers has always been a condition for employee engagement.
- Provide ongoing encouragement. Recognition doesn’t need to be an annual event. When an employee succeeds, say thank you and show your appreciation by recognizing their efforts and accomplishments.
Check in with them frequently and ask questions, such as : “How are you doing? Is there anything I should be doing differently? What can I do to help the team / support you / make your job easier?”
- Help increase their engagement and enable this to be sustained. Talk to the disenchanted employee to determine what work projects or goals need to change in order to get them re-engaged.
- Figure out if the employee is in the right role within the right organization. Many employees become disengaged because they have a poor relationship with their direct manager or because they simply aren’t a right fit for the role they’ve either been hired for or been transitioned to.
- Set Clear Direction. Fluctuations in economy and the changing dynamics of companies overall can cause a disconnect between management and employees. So it’s important, that clear direction set by the leaders of the organization and HR to will help employees understand what lies ahead – what company goals are. Doing so creates trust with employees..
- Build relationships and partner with others. A recent study showed that 64% of employees reported that they are unlikely to look for work outside their company. This means that is more important than ever for employees to build better relationships with their organizations’ management and for managers to build better relationships with their employees.
Motivating your employees in today’s world is no simple feat. And the needs of an organization and its employees are ever changing thanks to economy, technology and opportunity. But taking the time to further engage the Yes, to assess the No’s, and to inspire the Maybe’s is an engagement process worth every dollar you will spend. Creating lasting change drives improved performance, and isn’t that the real goal of employee engagement?
So, the next time your company invites you to become engaged.. will you say: “Yes” ? I hope so!