Our CEO, Brian Galonek, gave the Keynote Address to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) virtual conference, outlining the strategic path to employee engagement. Some highlights of Brian’s presentation follow.
All industries are driven by human beings – even those that are run largely by machines that human beings have built. In any industry, human beings will perform at higher levels when effectively motivated and engaged.
Gallup reports that only about 37% of U.S. employees are engaged; they enjoy their work, are proactive in achieving company goals, and say positive things about the company to others. Over 50% are not engaged, and dangerously, 13% are actively disengaged. These employees are harming the organization, not valuing their work or their co-workers, and often saying disparaging things about their organization. The middle 50+% is the group that can move the needle if they are engaged and motivated.
Why care about employee engagement?
Companies with a highly engaged workforce enjoy the following benefits (and more!):
- Improved safety records
- A healthier workforce
- Lower insurance costs
- Increased sales
- More complete training reinforcement
- Better customer service scores
- Effective change management
- Improved morale
- A positive organizational culture
- Reduced turnover
- Effective ESG policies (Environmental, Social and (corporate) Governance)
There are 3 paths to an engaged workforce:
- An abundance of intrinsically motivated employees. Wouldn’t it be great if all our employees were intrinsically motivated? If only that were possible. These are the employees that excel because it’s in their DNA; they do not need external motivation (but DO appreciate recognition).
- Recognition with Incentives. Many employees will respond to extrinsic motivation or incentives when they are meaningful and the rewards appeal to the employee audience. When team and individual goals are aligned with company goals and desired behaviors are clearly communicated, recognizing and rewarding employees that exhibit the desired behaviors increases the frequency of the behavior. This is the way in which extrinsic incentives and reinforcement help employees to develop positive habits, or “muscle memory”. For example, when you reward an employee consistently and often for following a given procedure, that procedure will come naturally to them.
- Increasing the number of intrinsically motivated employees by extrinsically rewarding them changes the culture of your organization to one of recognition and appreciation.
The desire for recognition at work is on every list of ways in which employees believe their leaders could improve engagement - and most employees admit they would work harder if their efforts were recognized and rewarded. Where’s the disconnect? Managers are not necessarily born motivators; they need training and tools to effectively motivate, reward, and recognize the employees that they lead. Surprisingly, only 14% of organizations provide their managers with the necessary tools.
Where to start?
It’s critical that any employee program has support from the top. Most company leaders would love to be included on the lists of Best Places to Work, Most Innovative Companies, etc. This only happens when the workforce is highly engaged. Presenting the financial benefits of increased engagement to management is a good place to start. Properly designed employee incentive, reward, and recognition programs enjoy a 4:1 return on investment; that alone may capture the attention of any C-Suite.
It’s important to partner with an experienced firm that can ensure that the program is effective, that the company goals are met, and all of the benefits of an engaged workforce are maximized. Many a management team has experienced unintended consequences by trying to design an employee program in-house.
To get started on the path to your highly engaged workforce, contact us today!