Employee Engagement and Motivation – You can’t afford it.


Motivated and engaged employees are something all companies want. We all know that team building and spending money on employees can be a waste. They are ungrateful an the results remains the same, or even worse as they spend a week talking about how that last round of go-carting went. Employees should work, after all that is what they are paid to do. You know, I kind of agree to a certain point.

Motivated and engagedCelebrations, team-building, events are great for a cheer, for some fun, for a break in the average mundane work day. Most of us love a gift on our birthday; just a few of us are loaded with happiness the rest of the year because of it. I think team-building and celebrations are nice. They are nice for fun at work and that is also important. Just like it is nice to be looking forward for a vacation. It will not have a lasting impact on motivation.

“We had a great barbecue last week, the food was great, but the job still sucks”

A question: Why do people learn how to play an instrument at their own spare time? Why do people go to classes in the evening to learn another language? And they even pay to do so. You pay them, and still they fall asleep at the desk during your morning presentation meetings.

Another question: What is the difference between work and leisure motivation?
“well it is something I want to do”

Another question: Why do you want to do it?
“because it is fun, and I control when, why and how to do it”

Another question: How can you re-create that motivation at work?

Another question: When was the last time you told someone what they should do?
– A follow up question: When was the last time you asked what they need to do a good job?


[box type=”info” size=”large” style=”rounded” border=”full”]About four years ago, I got a strange job offering, the dialogue was something like this:
“We want to hire you”
“What is the job about”
“We don’t know yet, but we think that you are good at it”
It freaked me out, so I did not take it. I wonder if I might have been deadly wrong?[/box]

I have worked with a lot of managers and employees, the best solutions are often provided by employees. – The frustration is at the same time “But they never listen to us”

  1. Listen to your employees
  2. Ask them how you can be of service
  3.  Let the employees create solutions
  4. Delegate the challenge, accept their way of solving it.
  5. Remove obstacles preventing them from performing.
  6. Praise when deserved and sometimes when it is not, just for the moral boost.
  7. Be honest about mistakes, but do not blame, flag a problem and drop the ball.
  8. Let employees follow up on ideas
  9. Demand one thing: the desired results.
  10. Smile, inspire and point in the direction.

And I include facts that should scare you:

55 % are unengaged at work. Well sounds like 45 % is engaged then? No, 19 % is actively dis-engaged at work. (Gallup)
– We are talking lost customers, lost opportunities, lost sales, sabotage.
78% would recommend their company’s products of services, against 13% of the disengaged. (Gallup)
This means: Among 20 employees: 26 % (5,2) are engaged enough to be among the 78 % that recommend your company and services. In total 4 people will be positive about your company.
18 % of the 55 % will be positive: So almost 2. In total you will have 6 people talking in a positive way about your company.
So 14 people are not promoting your company at all and feel no obligation to make your company a success.
The numbers is almost the same about understanding your customers’ needs.
And I am sorry to say that a team building won’t save the day. What if you can get 70 % of your company to act like the last 30 %? Can you still not afford to invest in employee engagement?

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6 Comments on "Employee Engagement and Motivation – You can’t afford it."

  1. JackieStern25 | February 15, 2013 at 9:19 pm |

    I have found, as a very new business owner, that positive reinforcement in the work place boosts morale and keeps my employees happy as well myself! This post really reminded me of a book I just read, “Green Beans & Ice Cream” by author Bill Sims Jr. (http://greenbeanleadership.com/) This book also clearly points out that the thing we need the most, is the thing we often receive the least—positive reinforcement and feedback from those around us. This is true on a leadership level, with family, friends and even with your spouse. The theme of positive reinforcement plays a main role in this book and it stresses that as a leader we must constantly be improving how individuals feel about themselves, the work they’re doing and the results they’re achieving. It also explains why proper positive reinforcements work to increase productivity, decrease costs, and enhance employee satisfaction. Each of his chapters contain a relevant story that is informative and interesting, and memorable. It is very important to me give and receive positive reinforcement every day, for the simple fact that I have a strong desire to perform my duties better. Hope you give it a read!!

  2. Based upon my work, studies, and experience my issue is with the team building idea itself. In many cases, as you indicated yourself, team building is about having fun, doing something outside of work. Team building should be carefully designed training, development, and learning opportunities for employees to learn about teamwork and taskwork processes within the context of the job and organization to allow this learning to be transferred to the the job.

  3. FrodeHeimen | February 8, 2013 at 9:55 pm |

    @Steve Roesler It puzzle me Steve, leaders are supposed to get results, why are we too busy to go and get them 😉 You are right it takes 1.08 seconds. I remember my post-it story from years back – when I surprised my co-workers with a handwritten post-it note with appreciation. Still I get feedback that they love their post-it. If leaders have a power drill in their toolbox, it is a genuine “thank you”  How are you going to help that company to find engagement again? Such an exciting challenge. I would love to hear how that goes.

  4. Steve Roesler | February 8, 2013 at 7:54 pm |

    @FrodeHeimen  @Steve Roesler 
    And it doesn’t cost anything but about 1.08 seconds of time. 
    But you know, it has been this way for thousands of years. I have concluded that sometimes the best we can do is remind busy people about what they have forgotten to do, and the choice is theirs.

  5. FrodeHeimen | February 8, 2013 at 5:39 pm |

    @Steve Roesler Hi Steve, wow thankt you for sharing this story. A thank you comes with powers, and with great powers comes great responsibility according to spiderman. 🙂 I got thanks today after a speach about customer service, but the best thing I got was  a pat on the back. Just got one, but it will last for a few days 🙂 Thank you might be one of the best tool in the leadership toolbox.

  6. Steve Roesler | February 8, 2013 at 4:06 pm |

    Hi, Frode, good topic.
    I have a client company that is going through the most change I’ve seen in 30 years of consulting. A combination of downsizing, people then asked to perform two or even three roles for the same amount of money, etc. Here is the thing. No one believes the actions are the wrong thing to do, because the company’s spending and lack of systems had gotten out of control. So people actually expected this a long time ago. They jumped in with both feet, as we say, and as difficult as it has been they did everything imaginable to save the company–which they did.
    Punchline: They are almost 100% disengaged now and looking for jobs elsewhere. Why?
    No one said, “Thank you.” They just got more and more work for less and less; but no acknowledgement of their sacrifice and stellar performance. I asked them if more money would make a difference. They said, “That would be nice, but it would no longer change how I feel. You can’t buy my allegiance. I just want to know I stepped up and was recognized for it.”
    I rest your case:-)

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