The pathway to a more engaged workforce starts with a purpose. A purpose that all companies share was best summed up over 30 years ago by management guru Peter Drucker when he said that the purpose of a company is to get and keep profitable customers.
At Brand Integrity, we know that companies also have something else in common: the shared belief that it is important to create an even better place to work. Why? Because being a better place to work means less stress for employees, which makes them more productive and driven to deliver consistently good customer experiences that help a company fulfill its purpose.
It just makes sense, doesn’t it?
Given this, it is important for a company to measure how well it is doing in being a good place to work. The way to measure is through employee engagement. Unfortunately, as a society, we continue to suffer from an employee engagement crisis.
Simply put, most companies are simply not good enough places to work. For more than 12 years, employee engagement statistics have barely budged. More than two-thirds of the American workforce is either not engaged or actively disengaged.
Consider the immense cost of a disengaged workforce. Engaged employees are both motivated and committed to act in the best interest of your company—helping you get and keep customers and sustain a strong work culture. On the other hand, disengaged employees are not motivated to provide that little extra discretionary effort or speak positively about your company; in many cases, they are not planning to stay and be a productive part of the team.
Add to this already bleak view the fact that recent engagement studies report 65 percent of managers in the U.S. also are not engaged! I’m not trying to scare you, but rather to open your eyes to the challenges many companies are facing on the pathway to creating and sustaining a more engaged workforce to succeed in achieving their purpose.
The next step on the pathway is to increase the level of engaged workers. Increasing the level of engaged workers means getting employees to tap into more of their intrinsic motivation. This can be tricky because intrinsic characteristics are completely up to individual discretion.
Motivation is not something that can be bought, begged or bribed. It can’t be forced upon us or trained; it belongs to us by our very nature. So, what can your company do to encourage employees to tap into their intrinsic motivation every day? That’s the million-dollar question.
The answer is simple, but it isn’t easy. I’ve written before about the three main drivers that fuel an engaged workforce and the seven decades of research that have gone into proving their merit. These drivers are what employees crave most.
Providing these drivers leads to employees who are willing to tap into more of their personal motivation to become better, more productive and engaged workers. As a reminder, the three drivers are:
Respect: to feel respect for who I am and the work I do.
Relevance: to understand the purpose and importance of my work and see how I make a difference.
Relationship: to have a good relationship with my boss.
As a leader or manager of people, it is your job to fuel the workforce with the three motivational drivers that employees crave. You’re responsible for creating the environment for employees to become more engaged. And this is where the management engagement crisis comes in.
I already mentioned that 65 percent of managers in the U.S. are disengaged. In addition, 75 percent of people say that their No. 1 stressor at work is their boss. Consider that there are approximately 40 million leaders or people who manage other people across the U.S. and about 90 percent of workers have at least one boss who is supposed to be a good leader but all too often is not.
Disengaged leaders are not the only ones who suffer in the management engagement crisis. Unhappiness and stress at work spreads throughout the company until it eventually hits your customers, which affects your company’s ability to achieve its purpose.
It has been said for years that, “People don’t leave companies, they leave managers.” The root cause and solution to the employee engagement crisis is dealing with the management engagement crisis. To do that, we must build better, more effective and trusted leaders who can create and sustain the environment for a more engaged workforce. I have found that the best way to do this is through a few managerial “essential habits.”
Building and sustaining habits is the key to successful behavior change, yet most people don’t know how to do it. People are naturally resistant to change and altering behavior in adults is one of the most difficult things to do. (Think about the last time you tried to change a habit; e.g., eat healthier, exercise more, quit smoking, be more organized, etc.)
I am here to say it doesn’t have to be painful to build a new habit that helps you be a more effective and trusted leader. All it takes is 10 minutes a week.
To help you and other leaders create an environment for a more engaged workforce, focus on the habit of recognizing and sharing success. That is, take 10 minutes a week to acknowledge an employee for delivering your company values in a way that positively affects the work culture, customer experience or business results. And share those examples with your team!
Recognition is a teaching tool for spreading best practices. Developing the essential habit of recognizing and sharing success is a way to train your brain to be more recognition-focused—developing your skills as a leader or manager of people while delivering on the three motivation drivers that lead to a more engaged workforce.
And a more engaged workforce will help you achieve the purpose of your company: to get and keep more profitable customers.
Gregg Lederman, CEO of Brand Integrity, is a professional speaker on the customer experience, leadership and culture change. He is an adjunct professor at University of Rochester’s Simon Business School and the author of the New York Times best-selling book “Engaged!: Outbehave Your Competition to Create Customers for Life.” Read more from Gregg at www.gregglederman.com.
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