If you want more employee engagement, here are key points:
- It is relatively easy to get acceptable performance through fear or incentives. But you won’t get better than acceptable performance. An ‘engaged’ employee will choose to do more because of internal motivation, not external motivation. There are a bazillion studies and books supporting this.
- The key to engagement is providing meaning an purpose to the work. It’s why a powerful mission and vivid vision description is important. Example: Apple’s compensation is no better than similar companies, but they have a mission to improve people’s lives and their employees are always working on the next big thing. Yes, they also attract great people and have a demanding culture, but the difference is meaning, purpose, involvement, and the sense of satisfaction from doing work that makes a difference.
- Pizza parties, t-shirts, workout facilities, and awards help make people happier with their work places. But they don’t engage people to perform at high levels. It’s like cleaning the windshield of your car—it’s nice to do, but it won’t improve performance.
I have worked with clients who have had outstanding results improving engagement of manufacturing operators, social workers, teachers, call center representatives, banking employees, among others. In every case, we were able to improve performance, job satisfaction, and customer service without increasing compensation levels. The key is to focus on the job and outputs, not incentives.