In order to make their employees perform, many organizations drive their results based on short term financial incentives for the employee: “If you do this, you get that.” Just as parents can get immediate result from their children using sticks, e.g. “if you do not clean up, you will not be allowed to watch TV” or carrots, e.g.: “if you stop singing, you will get an ice cream”, managers and organizations can immediately get short term results: “if you meet your target you will get 10% bonus”. But is this the right way for everyone? Probably not. Research have shown that this kind of carrot and stick motivation does not always work in working situations (Deci m fl., 1999), it can instead even do harm. Still, companies continue to use this method. Why? Probably because by using the carrot and stick motivation, visible and immediate short term results are obtained.
However, the risk with this tactics is that the results only lasts short term. How can you drive long term results year after year?
Why should you continuously drive increased engagement?
In order to drive long term results we need to find the intrinsic engagement in our organizations. What would it mean for your results if your and your organization’s engagement was higher? How much better results do you think you could achieve if you could increase engagement by 10% every year during the coming three years?
A Gallup study, comparing key business areas between highly engaged organizations and organizations with low engagement, have shown astonishing results:
Figure 1 : Business impact comparing companies in the top- and bottom quartile in employee engagement
Each area in the Gallup study can be connected to a cost or an increase in revenue shown on the bottom line financial result.
How to continuously drive increased engagement
What really engages people differs from person to person, but the key drivers for increased engagement can divided into four main areas:
- Individual wellbeing
- Engagement through people
- Engagement through purpose
- Engagement through tasks
For some people one of these drivers is more important than others, it is however important to consider them all both as managers and as employees. Having this in mind while performing your tasks at work and while building on the organizational culture at the company, you will see great impact on both the results and yours and others wellbeing. The impacts will show already at the short term and by continuously measure and improving and adjusting the different drivers, the long term results soon will follow.
What do the different engagement drivers mean?
If you feel well you perform well. This is the foundation for high performing individuals. You need to be able to focus on the right things at work in order to perform. If you do not feel well, your focus will be directed to that problem. Everyone can directly impact their wellbeing themselves. Examples of areas to work with are: sleep, food, exercise and mental training.
Engagement through people
We have a need for affinity, fellowship and sympathy at our working place. We need colleagues we like and can talk to, we need managers with high empathy and we need to be seen and heard. Some examples:
- We have a need to be seen and heard by our managers and colleagues
- We need good friends at work
- We want to be loved by our manager
Engagement through purpose
The personal agenda needs to be aligned with the company’s agenda. We need to understand why we do things and some people need high freedom for how, when and where to do the job.
- Why are we here and why should we do this task? This question, the reason for being, needs to be answered.
- Freedom of how to accomplish the mission is important. Not how, where and what.
- Key word is ROWE – Results Only Work Environment
Engagement through tasks
Clear goals which are aligned within the whole organization are important to make all employees work towards the same goal. For some people clear and efficient processes, scope of work and clear facts, are also important to understand and create intrinsic engagement. Some examples:
- The need of clear goals and continuous measurements to follow the result
- Need of understanding facts and data
- Need of clear and efficient processes for how to accomplish the goals
What should you do and where to start?
Consider the above drivers of engagement, both as an employee and as a manager. How can you contribute to fulfill the different needs for your colleagues in your organization?
Start off with a discussion in your team and assess yourselves within the different areas. Continuously measure and collect insights on how it is in your organization today and where you want to go. Create a vision and strategy with actions. Start taking small continuous actions every day and your results will come, short term as well as the long term.
Good luck and welcome with comments and questions!
Kind regards, Christian