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Engagement Without the Ring

You don’t have to give them a ring...but you need to be engaged.

Marketing. Accounting. Finance. Advertising. Sales. Revenue. Mergers. Acquisitions. Downsizing. Upsizing. Believe it or not, the success of a business in each of these areas is dependent on one key ingredient…the people.

Yeahhh… we see reports about those dream companies like Apple, Coca-cola, Chick-fil-A, Google, Edward Jones, and Mariott that are consistently ranked among the best places to work in the entire universe. But what makes them so great? Is it that their employees are paid astronomical salaries? Do they get gifts like the ones that Oprah used to give away every Christmas? Probably not!

First of all, I have worked for two of those famous companies and if I remember correctly, I did not get rich while I was there. So the salary thing…eh wrong answer! Research in the fields of psychology, sociology, and other behavioral sciences has consistently shown that greater (more long-term) job satisfaction is achieved through intrinsic motivation (ie. learning and creative freedom) than is achieved through extrinsic motivation (ie. money and gifts). In fact, Fortune Magazine’s list of the top 10 companies to work for is completely different than their list of the Top 10 Paying Companies. Clearly, money is not what makes some companies better than others.

They key is employee engagement. Not to be confused with happiness or satisfaction, employee engagement refers to the emotional commitment that an employee has to their organization and its goals. Not the Lifetime Movie type of emotional commitment but the kind of commitment that results in more profit towards the bottom line. In an ongoing study conducted by the Gallup organization, researchers found that a whopping 70% of the U.S. workforce is NOT engaged in their work.

Engagement has a greater impact on employees’ well-being than perks such as vacation time and flexible hours.

Step One – Find out where people are dissatisfied with their current work assignments. There’s little point to enriching jobs and changing the work environment if you’re enriching the wrong jobs and making the wrong changes. Like any motivation initiative, determine what your people want before you begin. Surveys and assessments are a great way to find out what people really want. While it is possible to create your own informal surveys, it is best to employ the help of a qualified professional to assess your staff, explain the results, and provide recommendations of how to move forward.

Step Two – Consider which job enrichment options you can provide. You don’t need to drastically redesign your entire work process. The way that you design the enriched jobs must strike a balance between operational need and job satisfaction. If significant changes are needed, consider establishing a “job enrichment task force” – perhaps use a cross-section of employees, and give them responsibility for deciding which enrichment options make the most sense. Step Three – Design and communicate your program. If you’re making significant changes, let people know what you’re doing and why. Work with your managers to create an enriching work environment that includes lots of employee participation and recognition. Remember to monitor your efforts, and regularly evaluate the effectiveness of what you’re providing.

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