It’s a fact that virtually every organisation and individual within those organisations, is being asked to ‘do more with less’. Therefore the key question right now should be, ‘How do we maximise productivity and performance, simply and easily’? One of the most effective ways to intelligently fast-track productivity and performance is by maximising employee engagement and motivation.
The problem is that many organisations are getting frustrated because the engagement solutions they’re implementing aren’t getting effective ‘cut through’ and the desired improvement in employee engagement scores. Many traditional employee engagement initiatives have fallen short by offering ‘band aid’ solutions or an ineffective mixture of employee benefits which have commonly created a ‘whinge entitlement’ culture. Most initiatives have focused on tackling the symptoms of disengagement, rather than understanding what uniquely engages the individual.
So why aren’t many organisations getting the engagement results and performance improvements they were hoping for? Well first let’s set the scene…
OK, we know that employee engagement (EE) increases performance (P) and productivity (P) which leads to increased profitability ($) in organisations.
Sure, engagement utopia would be having 100% of our employees, 100% motivated and engaged 100% of the time – unrealistic, but the ideal goal.
Employee engagement and motivation are seen as soft skills by many organisational leaders, so to make it more tangible (for the bean counters) we have researched the hell out of it. Arhhh… do we all feel better now? NO!
Many organisations traditionally conduct employee engagement research and, based on the findings, will typically put in place general engagement strategies (what we call Organisational Engagement Plans or OEPs). The problem is that many organisations spend the majority of their time and effort (some up to 80%) on employee engagement research, but only a minority on implementation of engagement strategies.
These broad brush engagement plans miss the mark in being effective for three key reasons:
1 – Rating vs Importance
Just because employees score a certain issue poorly in the research, such as ‘Opportunity’ (e.g. need for career development and growth), it doesn’t necessarily mean strategies to try and improve it should be a priority. In this example, Opportunity may not be that important to the majority of employees, so why invest a lot of time and resources in trying to improve it?
2 – One Size Doesn’t Fit All
Broad brush organisational strategies aren’t effective for many employees because they focus on the general common denominator or ‘average employee’, rather than specific drivers that motivate each individual. Basically one size doesn’t fit all – never has, never will.
3 – Limited Resources
Human Resources, due to limited time and resources can only focus on a few strategies based on the top issues identified in the engagement research.
A potential solution to the ineffective OEP has been to make people leaders more responsible in creating unique engagement plans at a team level (TEPs) which is useful up to a point. As in OEPs these can also be limited because what engages the team in general will most likely not be the same as what motivates and engages an individual within that team. TEPs are better than OEPs, but again, one size does not fit all.
At Life by Design here’s what we’ve found over the last decade – if organisations truly want to engage and motivate employees, they have to recognise that everyone is different. We need to take the “workforce of one” philosophy and treat employees as individuals, not just as team members or a number on the payroll.
But isn’t it too time consuming and complicated when everyone is so unique? The answer is relatively simple, although the application does require know-how.
To do this, organisations first need to give employees the tools to help them get clarity on what their top motivational drivers are and what strategies will help them maximise each of those drivers. Enter Personal Engagement Plans (PEPs).
PEPs are by far the most effective way to engage and motivate people simply and easily – hands down!
Now, PEPs might sound harder, more time consuming and a bit of a paradigm shift, but really people leaders should have been having these conversations with their people all along. The good news: doing a PEP can take as little as 20 minutes or they can even be almost automated by individuals with motivation and engagement systems such as meCentral.com.
From our benchmarking research of human resource directors over the last few years we have found that there are six key obstacles stopping organisations fully realising their workforce potential when it comes to employee engagement:
1. Employee Clarity (78%)
2. Time Poor (70%)
3. Skills, Tools & Resources (66%)
4. Inaction (62%)
5. Leader Buy in & Commitment (57%)
6. Ineffective Solutions (40%)
More enlightened human resource leaders are becoming increasingly aware that getting employees clear on what engages and motivates them is the first most important step in intelligently maximising workforce productivity and performance. Employee clarity is the number one step to combating the other barriers.
The fact is that if most employees know what they don’t want, fewer know what really does engage and motivate them. Psychologically if employees are not clear then it creates three problems:
1. Employees tend to default to pay and reward as the main motivator and potentially back to a ‘whinge-entitlement’ culture.
2. People leaders will have virtually no chance of engaging them
3. Employees can’t take responsibility for their own engagement and motivation because they don’t know where to start
The way forward for effective employee-driven productivity and revolutionising employee engagement needs to be a bottom-up approach. This approach is employee activated, where everyone is treated as an individual, because broad brushstroke initiatives are too generic. So instead of implementing top-line initiatives, HR leaders who are serious about improving performance and productivity need to arm their people leaders and employees with the tools and resources to be able to do PEPs and in doing so get individual employees to understand and be responsible for what engages and motivates them.
As a way of staying thanks for being part of our Life by Design community we are releasing an extract of our People Glue book. 48 pages of thought provoking content on how to change the landscape of employee engagement as we know it now!