Strategies to Improve Employee Engagement

The benefits of the engaged workforce are well known. According to the Gallup organization, engaged employees produce more, turnover less, and help their companies achieve greater financial returns than employees who aren't. Yet, the rate of employee engagement has stagnated and disaffected employees have a disproportionate negative effect. 

So, who wouldn't want more engaged employees? The problem lies not in desire, but in execution. It takes more than the periodic "employee engagement" survey. It takes a keen understanding of employee motivation. 

The foundation of employee engagement - and how to foster it can be traced in two well-known precepts of modern psychology. When thoughtfully implemented in concert, these can yield powerful and significant results that benefit the company, its employees, and its customers alike. Yet, many practitioners often fail to connect the dots, yielding uneven or even undesirable results. 

Importance of Needs in Engagement

Noted American psychologist Abraham Maslow famously postulated his "Hierarchy of Needs" as a way to explain certain traits in human behavior. Without reconstructing an entire semester of college psychology, the Hierarchy of Needs describes a continuum of human motivations ranging from the most basic, that are shared by just about everyone, to the most advanced that are generally specific and highly personal to the individual. Many organizations cater to the "lowest common denominator", ignoring important drivers that can yield the most significant engagement results. 

His model can act as the foundation to develop and maintain an engaged workforce as well. Using Maslow's model, employers provide their employees with safety: a source of employment and income to provide for basic physiological needs. Few employers go beyond that in part because, as one moves up the Maslow hierarchy, satisfying those needs becomes more personal and individualized and harder to accomplish. 

To effectively propagate an environment that supports engagement, employers should be able to provide meaningful answers to four basic questions which roughly approximates the Maslow Hierarchy: 

  • What do I get?
  • What do I give?
  • Do I belong?
  • How can I grow?

What Do I Get?

This is the most basic level of engagement. The employee knows what's expected of him or her, understands how performance will be measured, has the tools to do the job properly and well, and is paid a fair wage. Proper training is a big hurdle for many companies - finding time, coordinating resources and pulling people away from their jobs can be a difficult to justify. eLearning has played a major role in employee engagement, helping employees better understand their roles and responsibilities through scenario based learning, while providing a scalable and cost-effective training solution for the organization. 

What Do I Give?

Someone encourages development through formal training and coaching and there is someone charged with ensuring high quality work. At this level, the employee also expects to receive regular, personalized recognition. Recognition programs help to incentivize the right kind of behavior if done properly. Costs, behaviors and goals have to be analyzed. Take customer service, for example, if you incentive CSR's to shorten average handle time (AHT), you may be doing so at the expense of other metrics like quality. What happens if every team member achieves the recognition? This would be a great problem to have, provided you selected your payout appropriately. Ensure that whatever the prize is, it can be distributed equally to all achievers without breaking the bank. For help designing employee recognition programs that deliver results, The Connection® team of consultants is here to help! Contact our team to help or to learn more.

How Can I Grow?

In this highest level, the employee believes he or she has some opportunity for advancement, either through promotion or increasing levels of responsibility. While this often requires attaining higher levels of knowledge, just as often it is dependent on demonstrated leadership and organizational skills. The Connection® offers a variety of development tools for call centers looking to grow their team members. To learn more, visit our learning and development page or contact us for more information. 


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