Keeping employees motivated and engaged is the key to success for every business. But, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to motivating employees since, obviously, different people are motivated by different things at different times. The traditional concept of associate satisfaction is very important; however, it is not as critical to an organization’s success as the extent to which individual employees are engaged.
When employees are truly engaged, they feel a sense of ownership of the business and are more motivated to apply effort to work toward the company’s overall mission and goals, as well as embrace its values. Engaged employees positively influence the buying behaviors of customers leading to higher customer loyalty and profitable growth. Or as Timothy R. Clark, author of Epic Change: How to Lead Change in the Global Age says, “Highly engaged employees make the customer experience. Disengaged employees break it.”
We’ve likely all seen or taken anonymous employee engagement surveys designed by upper management to gauge how employees feel about their workplace experiences. It’s unfortunate that, far too often, these surveys are emailed out, the employees dutifully take them, the results are tallied and then… crickets. It’s an enormous missed opportunity to take the metaphorical temperature of teams to find out their opinions about the business and its leadership, as well as discover what drives them to help the business succeed. After all, if you want to know how you’re doing, ask your employees! And then act on what they tell you.
These surveys are designed to measure the level of employee engagement and the employment experience across many different aspects of the work environment. To identify key motivation drivers, it’s important to analyze the responses to understand what really makes a difference to employees (i.e., what motivates them to do their jobs well). Improving specific drivers can improve overall employee engagement.
A Paycheck Won’t Guarantee Passion
While a great salary is the only motivator for some employees, this doesn’t hold true for most. And it’s important that you find out what motivates yours.
Every year, polling company Gallup conducts a “State of the American Workplace” study, which is based on the following four types of employees’ performance development needs:
- basic needs
- individual needs
- teamwork needs
- personal growth needs
These levels provide a roadmap for managers to motivate and develop their team members and improve the team members’ performance, with each level building on the previous one. The questions they ask in their survey are answered on a ranking scale of 1-5 (1 being worst and 5 being best), and directly correspond to the levels above:
- I know what is expected of me at work. (1)
- I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right. (1)
- At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day. (2)
- In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work. (2)
- My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person. (2)
- There is someone at work who encourages my development. (2)
- At work, my opinions seem to count. (3)
- The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important. (3)
- My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work. (3)
- I have a best friend at work. (4)
- In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress. (4)
- This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow. (4)
- You can very easily pattern your own survey after this one and see where your employees fall in the engagement scale. And then take these three steps toward better motivation among your workforce: First, believe what your common sense is telling you about how to create a healthy, productive work environment (open, honest communication; clear expectations; opportunities for your employees to shine). Second, figure out exactly what motivates your employees to do their best work. Third, measure engagement at your organization. You can gain valuable insights and probably more than a few a-ha moments from the results. And there’s nothing like hard data to get the attention of leadership.