The 12 Ways to Engage & Retain Staff – Part 4

The 12 Ways to Engage & Retain Staff – Part 4

by  Andrew Cooke, Growth & Profit Solutions

12 Ways to Engage & Retain Staff, Image (c) People Insight

In the first blog in this series we looked at why employee engagement is so important and provided an overview of Gallup’s findings from its extensive research.  This was summarised in the following 12 ways to engage employees.

In the second blog we examined the first 3 elements in further detail.  This included:

  1. I know what is expected of me at work.
  2. I have the right materials and equipment I need to do my work right.
  3. At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.

In the third blog we continued looking at the second triad of elements including:

4. In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.

5. My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person.

6. There is someone at work who encourages my development.

In this blog we look at the next 3 elements:

7. At work, my opinions seem to count.
8. The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important.
9. My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work.

Seventh Element – My Opinion Seems to CountWhat does it mean?

Great managers are receptive to hearing ideas and opinions from their direct reports.  There is the need to understand the dynamics of a diverse group of people who are working together to avoid turf wars etc.  Managers and staff need to know and respect each others’ roles.

What is the evidence?

About 50% of employees who say their company is receptive to hearing their opinions report they are able to deliver very creative ideas while on the job.  Gallup studies reveal when employee-generated ideas are accepted and implemented, the commitment level to executing these ideas from employees is higher than normal.

What should we do?

  1. Be genuine and authentic with people, make them feel important and that they count
  2. Every system depends on the motivation of the people who run it; as such motivation requires people to strongly agree that “At my work, my opinions seem to count”.
  3. Make people feel that their opinions count,  this helps them to bring out more creative ideas and a higher level of engagement. As such it has a substantial impact on customer experience, productivity, employee retention and safety which collectively improve profitability.
  4. Incorporating employees’ ideas has 2 benefits: firstly, often the ideas are good; and secondly, it makes it more likely that the employees will be committed to its execution.

Approaches for developing this include:

  • Regular meetings with ground rules including one speaker at a time, no blaming, speak in headlines, give constructive feedback and “to directly address the issue.
  • Role plays – especially between positions where there are difficulties or tensions, with people playing the others roles.
  • Developing plans around how to work together, and what specifically you are going to do in terms of combined roles, communication and expectations.

Eighth Element – A Connection with the Mission of the Company

What does it mean?

Great managers are able to connect their direct reports to the mission of the company resulting in employees feeling their job is important.

This is about having an emotional connection with the company.  People need to have meaning and purpose, they want to understand how they fit into and contribute to the grand scheme of things.  This gives them a sense of purpose and belonging.

For example, Kodak positioned itself not as a seller of film, but a capturer of memories.  This focuses on the emotional outcomes of what they do, rather than the rational tasks of their work.

The more people agree with this statement is predictive of its performance on a wide array of measures

What is the evidence?

Project teams that are mission-driven report 15-to-30% lower turnover rates. According to Gallup research, trust-level in the decisions of upper-manager increases, less on-the-job conflict happens, and greater commitments to getting the job done occurs when employees feel a direct connection exists between their job and the mission of the company.

What should we do?

There are 3 “lenses” through which an individual can filter the world and define for himself or herself whether the work contributes to the quality of their life or not.  It is not the work that defines the individual.  The 3 “lenses” or categories include:

  • Work is a job; a necessary inconvenience and way of earning money with which they can achieve personal goals and enjoy themselves outside of work. They are the least engaged.
  • Work as a career; they enjoy the increased pay, prestige and status that comes as they work their way up the corporate ladder;
  • Work as a calling; usually associated with the belief that the work contributes to the greater good and makes the world a better place.

We need to be clear on the emotional purpose of the company, and how each individual’s work contributes.  We need to highlight what the values of the company are, and how what they do reinforces those values and contributes to the outcomes.  Having an on-going dialogue about this and making it relevant to what they do helps to strengthen this.

Ninth Element – Coworkers Committed to Doing Quality Work

What does it mean?

Great managers develop engaged staff who are committed and motivated to doing a great job

What is the evidence?

Research shows that 67% of employees fail to strongly agree that their co-workers are committed to doing quality work. As such, if people do “not pull their weight” it can have a negative impact on morale and productivity. For example:

One man pulls at 100%.  If two men are pulling the average man will exert himself at 93%, with four men it is at 75% each.  By the time the eighth man is added, each man is pulling only on average only half what he could.  In fact, 8 men on the rope pull no harder than seven, as the other seven relax enough to subtract whatever the eighth man adds.

So work groups can be 2+2=5, but they also have the capability of 2+2=3!

This can mean that teams with a poor work ethic and poor sense of responsibility, can become a place to hide laziness, push work to other people and to create a culture of blame.

What should we do?

We need to distinguish whether the lack of performance is about a lack of aptitude (i.e. they lack the relevant skills) or a lack of attitude (they lack the right behaviours).  You can only train people for aptitude; you can never do this for attitude.  Your three options are to Terminate, Transfer or Train.

Which of these 3 elements have you used and to what effect?  If you were to rank them which would you use first?  Would you use them with everyone, some of them or with no-one?

Share your ideas, and share the wealth.

In the next and final blog we look at the final three elements including:

10. I have a best friend at work.
11. In the last six months, someone has talked to me about my progress.
12. This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow.

Until then share your thoughts and ideas here, and feel free to share this blog and articles with any colleagues, clients or friends you feel may find this of value.

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Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.

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