Friday, 23 September 2016

Employee Engagement: Don't Up Staff, Up Your Staff!

We all know employee engagement is important. We all desire great stats or an improvement in performance. We set off on a mission to measure levels of engagement, with the best intentions of encouraging an engaged workforce and thereby improving productivity. We send out surveys promising that ‘we value your opinion’. We then responsibly convey the results to management and the company and then… we don’t know always what to do about the problem areas that employees have identified.

Every individual in your organisation is a human being (yes, it’s true) with their own needs. Maslow talks about the various levels of individuals’ needs and many people have related his theories to the workplace. Hertzberg reckons that you have to have the basics in place (or else you’re in trouble) and he goes on to say there are other groups of factors that actually get people moving. What else do we know about keeping people happy, motivating them and ensuring their needs are met? Well, we know that everyone is the star of their own story. People experience their own reality and whether or not they think they need it, everyone enjoys personal recognition and acknowledgement, even of the smallest achievements or events.

So in a nut shell, people are complex creatures and the environment in the workplace affects all individuals. I’m sure we all agree that the aim is to develop an environment where people are motivated and energised, where responsibility and accountability are habitual, where employees collaborate and are truly involved in their work and thus (drum roll)… a culture of high performance is created. Which brings us precisely back to the beginning of this topic and why we measure employee engagement. The problem here lies in how to tackle the problem areas that have been reported and how do we maintain a level of consistent happiness amongst our staff members.

If we explore the levels according to Maslow, the organisation can address the basic needs through ensuring employees have the fundamental equipment and resources required to their job as well as ensuring a safe and comfortable office environment (which may include aspects such as safe parking facilities for example). Communicating job security and ensuring remuneration packages are market related are other aspects of basic needs. Managers should encourage friendships amongst co-workers as this is an important part of an individual’s daily life and assists in addressing one’s social needs for belonging. A company culture that supports and encourages these relationships can be facilitated through encouraging peers to acknowledge each other’s work as well as finding out more about each other, organising and attending team get-togethers and so on. Good relationships amongst co-workers means a more collaborative workforce, and one that deals with conflict management in an emotionally intelligent manner. A need for esteem, status, recognition and commendation of one’s work should be catered for and attended to on a frequent basis. One award at the end of the year is not sufficient for most, but particularly not for our millennial generation who favour frequent feedback and need to feel that their efforts are noticed, appreciated and are contributing to organisation. The need for self actualisation, albeit a very personal feeling or state, can be addressed in the workplace through aspects such as creative success or challenging work. A feeling of satisfaction around an impressive achievement or one’s contribution to a cause can certainly influence a person’s current state of self actualisation.

Bearing in mind that all needs require attention and simultaneously for that matter. The satisfaction of one need does not mean that it replaces or removes the need for attention to another. Where the absence of something may lead to dissatisfaction, the presence of something else does not necessarily lead to satisfaction, but rather avoids dissatisfaction. The power of a truly engaged workforce can have an enormous impact on the productivity and success of a business and an actively disengaged employee is something worth actively preventing.

Some questions to keep in mind include: How are you addressing the results from your engagement survey? What are you going to put in place to encourage engagement through the right culture? How do you plan to prove ROI on your implemented solution?


Amanda Mohr (BCom Industrial Psychology, Honours)

Amanda is part of our Behavioural Specialist team here at Workpoints. She is our client advice giver, our multitasker and our personal shopper.

Workpoints is a fully featured reward, recognition and incentives platform that provides you with the tools to create a high performance organisation. Our easy-to-use application integrates simply into any organisation and instantly encourages staff to do the daily grind with excellence and energy. Visit for more info and a free trial!

1 comment:

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