In case you missed it, employee engagement is kind of a big deal lately. In fact, it has been gaining traction for quite some time now, and leaders across all industries are re-shaping the future of the workforce. In the previous post in this series we discussed why employee engagement has caught such a center stage in the past few years and why you should care. In this segment we will go over the mechanics of what drives employees to feel connected to their workplace and put in their discretionary effort into excelling at their work.
As mentioned in the previous post, companies commonly tap five elements in order to boost employee engagement: driving meaningful work, an encouraging management mentality, recognizing achievement, investing in employee growth, and finally, building inspiration. Successful companies within different industries and cultures tap these elements regularly. Here are some examples of best-practices and concepts that help transform company culture through employee engagement.
A culture of achievement recognition is formed by allowing everyone a chance to feel appreciated. This is not achieved by simply rewarding top performers and celebrating major achievements. A best-practice for recognition is to create mechanisms that will make it easy to celebrate small wins and recognize even daily successes.
Zappos is a great example for this. To make recognizing achievements easy and fun they created their own money: Zappos Dollars, or Zollars, are being earned or granted by other employees as a token of peer-appreciation. Zollars can be donated to charities, or redeem a movie ticket, even used in the company internal store – “The Zollar store”.
The Zapponian who awards the Zollars to a peer has to fill out the recipient’s name along with the reason of why they are giving the Zollar, which makes the recognition meaningful. That is a whole new level of peer appreciation!
Encouraging management entails not keeping employees in limbo. Engaged employees know what is expected of them, where they are going and how to get there. In fact in some industries, over 31% of newly hired employees churn within the first 6 months, stating they do not understand what is required from them as the cause. Clearly defined goals and coaching to help employees get them is essential for engagement.
Companies that do this well provide employees and managers with processes and frameworks that will serve as a space for a continuous dialogue about performance goals and feedback. A great example for this is Adobe. In 2014 Adobe initiated a process it calls Check-ins. Instead of annual reviews, managers and employees engage in regular sessions to review progression, provide feedback and offer coaching. The process includes setting clear expectations regarding goals for the period, while providing ongoing feedback, ideally as real-time as possible to drive behavioral change and relevant coaching. The result – voluntary turnover decreased by 30% and a sharp growth in employees’ likelihood to recommend Adobe as a great place to work.
Creating a sense of autonomy and empowerment in your employees is no easy feat. Helping them see the bigger picture and their value as part of a bigger team that adds real and tangible value can sometimes be a big challenge. However, it is one that at times can be addressed with small gestures. One such example is John Lewis. In this high-end UK retailer, employees are referred to as partners. Management involves their partners in business decisions and solutions, empowering them to create an amazing customer experience. It’s no surprise that for several years now John Lewis has been at the top of the charts as the place Brits are proudest to work for.
Another great practice for showing employees the big-picture is through team goals and challenges. In this process, employees gain points for achieving performance benchmarks such as how quickly they resolve client issues or how many customers they serve. These points are tallied into a team scoreboard and teams that hit company benchmarks are celebrated in company news bulletins and win prizes. By doing so each employee can see in vivid colors how they contribute to their team performance and their company’s overall success.
Investing in Growth
Providing employees with ample opportunities to learn and improve their performance, grow their skills, share knowledge and prepare for career development is key to sustaining an engaged workforce. One way to do this is through a culture of continuous learning, backed by the tools to support it. Tools that allow employees access to learning anywhere, anytime, and encourage them to quickly refresh knowledge and improve their skills based on their needs and goals.
Pixar’s University is a great example for a company that does this well. Pixar offers employees training and cross-training for their roles and beyond. Employees can access the courses as needed for work but are also encouraged to seek out professional training from different disciplines and topics outside business. Ed Catmull, Pixar’s president says “Pixar University helps reinforce the mind-set that we’re all learning and it’s fun to learn together”
Creating a feeling of connectedness to one’s company, relatedness to its mission statement and to its leadership is the holy grail of engagement. The main tool for driving inspiration is communication. Direct communication between senior management and employees of all levels and sharing inspiring stories of success from the field.
Southwest Airlines, which can be used as an example for each of the above, really sets the bar high when it comes to inspiring its workforce. Their purpose- “We exist to connect people to what’s important in their lives through friendly, reliable, and low-cost air travel.”, inspireses each and every one of their 43,000 employees to go the extra mile. Southwest CEO, Gary Kelly, gives a personal “shout out” every week to one employee who stood out and went above-and-beyond to provide exceptional customer service. The company’s magazine Spirit features a monthly story of an employee who transcended the (exceptionally high) standard of customer service. Lastly, as part of their efforts to inspire their workforce, internal corporate videos that are the epitome of phenomenal storytelling are filled with real examples that help employees understand how he or she can personally apply the company’s purpose, and how it looks and feels when done right.
So, there you have it – this is how it’s done right. Now that you know a bit more about employee engagement and how it looks when done correctly, it’s time to learn what it takes to apply these principles on the field. In the next session we will discuss tools for driving employee engagement and what you expect from them. Lots of good stuff coming your way so stick around!
Gameffective is an Employee Centric Performance Management Platform – the “fitness tracker” for the Connected Workforce of the Future. Gameffective empowers employees to boost their work performance through hyper personalised goals, real time tracking and data-driven feedback and coaching. Deployed with the world’s leading organizations Gameffective helps managers drive up employee value day by day. To find out how Gameffective can help transform your organization go to www.gameffective.com or book a live demo.