Digital Strategy

How to keep people engaged?

People motivation has always been important, but with the accelerated transformation of the industry it becomes more and more critical to keep people engaged and supportive of changes.

First, let us review what engagement means and how companies are usually addressing the point. Then, I will introduce the factors of motivation and importance of associating employees to change. I will end with my key rules to keep people engaged.

Employees’ engagement, a few data points

Based on the State of Employee Engagement in 2018 published by HR.com, the most common definition of employee engagement is “an employee’s willingness to do his/her best at work” . It is also “an employee’s emotional commitment to the organization and its objectives”.

The percentage of engaged employees varies depending on surveys, geographies and industries. HR.com claims that for 2/3 of their interviewed companies, 70% of employees are engaged when 1/3 believes that less than 40% are engaged.

No matter what the exact number is, that depends on individual company policies and HR practices given that only 53% of respondent companies ran a survey in 2018! Still it is important, especially at a time when people are being asked to invest a lot into their job, that has little chance to be the one of tomorrow.

Following the MckKinsey Global Institute report Jobs lost, Jobs gained, up to 30% of current jobs will disappear or will be fully automated by 2030. This means that people will have to go through significant transitions. Success will only come with people understanding why the change and what their next job will be.

Corporate Social Responsibility

As an answer, most companies have a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy. CSR means responsibility of enterprises for their impact on society and environment. The concept comes from the US but is more used in Europe supported by the European Commission and reinforced by national laws such as the Grenelle de l’environnement or the PACTE 2018 in France.

Top CSR topics are: work opportunity and diversity, salary competitiveness, career development, training and well-being at work. On theory they are all good to drive proper engagement. Unfortunately, CSR strategy is often well documented in the Yearly Registration Plan but is not executed daily by managers. It becomes more an opportunity to give a positive external image than drive long run employee engagement.

The puzzle of motivation

That is why the other opportunity is to address the drivers for engagement. Obviously having a good salary is important but when it is aligned to market conditions, leadership and positive work culture contribute more to the motivation of employees.

Daniel Pink, a writer on behavioral science, developed an interesting theory in  the “Puzzle of motivation” TEDx video. In this video, he explains that people are motivated by extrinsic factors (reward, recognition) and by intrinsic factors (personal interest, own values). Extrinsic factors are relevant in a simple environment and were very relevant in the past century. Intrinsic factors are more critical today to motivate highly educated workforce facing complex situations.

As a summary, to be creative, innovative and engaged, people require “Autonomy (self-direction), Mastery (getting better at what matters) and Purpose (why do things)”.

This theory confirms that the key enablers to engagement is leadership with clear vision and transparent communication as well as company culture with values and trust in employees.

Digital technologies

At the time of digital technologies, it is easy to think that change adoption is a matter of using the right tools and platforms. This requires more careful thinking. Companies can send several newsletters per week, deliver webinars on many topics or even promote internal social media communication. This does not guarantee people engagement.

Few companies of IT work on the Office of the Future to define products and solutions which improve collaboration and well-being at work. It goes into the right direction when it is fully integrated into company strategy. Often it only covers nice renovated buildings with modern design and large space to drink coffee in comfortable sofa.

The human factor

The critical component remains the human factor: how to care about people and their aspirations. It seems quite simple but is highly subject to the quality of the management team and the spirit inspired by leaders.

When a company must go through transformation, change cannot be imposed to employees without explanation. Management must give regular update on business results and competition and all departments must be exposed to customers and understand real market situation. On top, employees need to have a forum for discussion: in one to one, in small groups and larger audiences. Easy to say, not so often happening in real life!

A collective approach can bring change adoption to the next level. Everyone contributes to transformation in his /her area of expertise. This allows to onboard more people, to recognize their competencies and to associate them to the transformation. At the end, new products, processes or services will be more pertinent. An excellent topic of collective contribution is the workplace transformation, it matters to everybody and is a great way to break silo.

But this approach requires real openness from management and right skills on how to drive collective intelligence. I recommend reading the “Reinventing organizations” book by Frederic Laloux to move ahead.

 

As a conclusion key rules of engagement are:

  • have a leader sharing his vision and a company with values aligned to employees
  • trust employees and give them autonomy to deliver
  • listen to people and give regular feedback
  • deliver training to keep up with technology change or need for new skills
  • associate employees into change through collective intelligence

Finally taking regular pulse of engagement – not only once a year – will allow companies to be more agile and keep people engaged on the long run.

#engagement #motivationatwork #collectiveintelligence

 

Sources:

Whitepaper on engagement: https://www.glintinc.com/resource-center/

eRSE platform: https://e-rse.net/definitions/rse-definition/#gs.4IhIgKmC

Motivation factors: https://www.maddyness.com/2018/04/02/tribune-tuer-motivation-de-vos-employes-10-lecons/

Daniel Pink: https://www.ted.com/talks/dan_pink_on_motivation?language=en

Office of The Future: https://architizer.com/blog/practice/tools/hp-workspaces-of-the-future-2/

Infographic credits: NE

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Nathalie Espenel