Business Success and the Role Employee Engagement Plays

When it comes to business profitability and growth, business leaders are focusing on employee engagement like never before. Why? Employee engagement affects many things, not the least of which is employee retention, productivity, customer satisfaction, and more.

But tracking, monitoring, and measuring employee engagement, that’s where it can get creepy. Big companies like Deloitte and IBM are developing software that allows the tracking of sentiment in employee communications. So, not only can an employer access and read emails (nothing new in the business world), they can analyze the sentiment in those emails, Slack messages, and likely other internal collaboration platforms, and use data to figure out if you’re happy in your job, likely to stay, productive as a member of an internal team, providing good customer service, you name it.

The reality is that happy employees are engaged employees, and engaged employees are productive employees. Productive, engaged employees play a big role in business profitability and success.

Why Engagement

Companies with high levels of employee engagement see measurably increased levels of business success. Results include 2.3 percent to 3.8 percent greater stock returns annually than competitors, 22 percent higher productivity, “38 percent more likely to have above average productivity”, and increasing investment in employee engagement by 10 percent can yield $2,400 per employee in increased profit.

The Engagement Disconnect

Most employees are not engaged despite the priority leaders claim it to be. Research conducted by the Harvard Business Review found that while 71 percent of managers considered high levels of employee engagement to be a key factor in their organization’s success, only 24 percent of those managers described their employees as “highly engaged.” Gallup tracks levels of employee engagement monthly. In March of 2016, engagement hit a new high of 34.1 percent. By May it slipped back down to 32.7 percent.

Increasing Engagement

Not only do high levels of engagement improve business results, low levels of engagement can increase costs to employers in the form of increased turn over, and hiring difficulties. Given the bottom line benefits to organizations, how can employers successfully measure and increase employee engagement?

Many companies measure employee engagement through surveys. These surveys, however, often developed and administered by outside consultants, can be long, cumbersome, and infrequently completed. As a result, organizations are increasingly turning to new ways of measuring engagement.

One way of simplifying and speeding up employee surveys is to frequently ask one question. For example, John Deere added a motivation question to the review process at the end of two-week development cycles. This approach has allowed John Deere to identify disengagement and make corrections before an employee’s performance suffers.

Another single question measurement is a Net Promoter Score (NPS). This customer satisfaction metric is said to be the only number companies need to track to achieve growth. Similarly, organizations have started to use this methodology to quantify employee satisfaction.

New technologies are also enabling employers to track employee engagement continuously rather than waiting for annual check-ins. Impraise allows workers and managers to provide each other with real-time feedback. A tool called Vibe from Tokyo-based software company, AIR, allows companies to scan digital communications in the workplace by monitoring conversations on chat platform Slack. If sentiment analysis of those messages indicates a drop in employee morale, managers receive alerts so that they can address issues immediately.

Single question surveys and big-brother monitoring of employee questions can identify problems but by themselves they cannot build engagement and monitoring could even damage trust by the intrusive nature of the practice. How then can employers actively boost employee engagement.

Approaches that have proven effective include organization-wide communication, ensuring employees at all levels understand how their work is aligned with company goals, and providing frequent recognition. Former Campbell Soup Company CEO, Doug Conant, wrote more than 30,000 thank you notes to employees at all levels recognizing a specific contribution they had made. U.K.-based hardware company, Screwfix has created a 360-degree feedback culture that ensures their staff understands the company’s business goals and has a voice in achieving them.

Although legal, creepy surveillance software might seem like a quick tech fix for boosting employee engagement when almost 70 percent of employees remain checked-out, but a comprehensive, proactive strategy is necessary. Companies with happy, productive, engaged workers pair measurement with action. Oh, and if you want to explore that, we can help!

Photo Credit: recursosjuridicos Flickr via Compfight cc

A version of this was first posted on

How to Motivate Employees – The Complete Guide

Whether you oversee a business, a project or a specific department your goal should always be growth. But, don’t forget that growth only has market value when it is consistent.

Growth is a marathon, and just like any marathonist who prepares themselves both mentally and physically, you need to be in possession of the right tools for the long run. Even though marathon runners win titles alone, the team supporting them is arguably one of the most decisive aspects for their winnings.  Within business the same happens, your employees are your team and they are the most important and decisive element on how your business is going to perform in the future.

It is essential that you understand what you need to do to keep your employees engaged and focused on the common goal. The secret to motivating employees is about knowing your team individuals and customizing the way you recognize and motivate them according to their specific preferences.

You will always need to spend at least as much time building an engaging ecosystem and improving your employee experience as you do hiring new people and motivating your staff.

  1. Stop Micromanaging

Even though people often look at you as you were Superman, it does not mean you have superpowers. Being a manager, and at the same time, an employee is something that only Clark Kent could dream of. Nonetheless, many are the managers who try to do that and end up being neither a good manager nor a good employee.

Alysa Gregory wrote a pretty insightful post on how you can effectively address this common problem with specific techniques. The problem with micromanagement is that it will make your employees too much dependent on you for direction and therefore less likely to learn, think and produce quality outcomes for themselves. Provide direction and give assistance when required but also provide freedom for employees to do things their own way and surprise you.

Salvador is a Portuguese 25 years old person that has been self-motivated to support young entrepreneurs since university. He’s helped several young entrepreneurs shaping up their business models through a youth entrepreneurship organization named Bring Entrepreneurs Together.

Now, he’s a young entrepreneur himself, specifically the CEO of Tap My Back – a software that supports companies adapting to the way millennials communicate, through instant public work appreciation and continuous feedback. Before joining Tap My Back, he did a Master’s degreeon Business Strategy at Católica Lisbon School of Business & Economics.

Stop Micromanaging

  1. Give ownership

Over time workers can develop what’s called tunnel vision making them to start focusing only about their own duties and deadlines. Rather than working for the company goals, they work towards meeting their role minimum requirements.

A Forbes article recently explores the advantages in leveraging something they defined as “psychological ownership” – the extent to which an employee feels as though their organization or their job is “theirs” (i.e., “this is MY company!”) to the point that the company becomes an important part of an employee’s self-identity.

To foster this mentality across your team you should guarantee that each collaborator gets to understand how his role impacts directly the final customer as well as his colleagues.

Make sure your team feels responsible for what the customer is buying 

  1. Push employees out of the comfort zone

Even though some managers feel their staff does little further from what it is required of them, the fact is that by nature most people do get bored of being asked to do a specific task repeatedly. Besides, this demand makes people to automatize the work they do lowering the probability of contributing with out-of-scope work.

A key ingredient to make people step out of the comfort zone relies in leadership. It starts with you. Step out of your comfort zone and describe the process to your staff as well as the reasons why. Your behavior will soon resonate. Then, be ready to identify barriers and understand what motivates the individuals to guide your employee’s breakthroughs.

Staying within your comfort zone is a good way to prepare for today, but it’s a terrible way to prepare for tommorow –

David Peterson, Director, Executive Coaching & Leadership at Google –

  1. Share information constantly

When you are growing fast, assumptions and goals change in the same pace. As a business leader, you have a clearer perspective on the bigger picture than your employees do.

Spreading the intel gets everyone on the same layer as you are and at the same time strengthens the feeling among workers that they are an important part of the organization. Nowadays, you can easily share information through several different ways.

  1. Create an environment focused on the top performers

All the efforts you put into improving your team working conditions should always be focused in satisfying the top performing employees. Eitan Sharir develops a thorough analysis on the impact a team build upon an high-performance culture may generate.

Your mission is to understand the best way to motivate your most talented employees to improve their production rate. Get to know what are the roadblocks they’re hitting and make sure you clear them so that they have no barriers to get the most important work done. 

Create an environment focused on the top performers

  1. Use a simple employee recognition tool

Recent studies indicate that employees feel recognition more fulfilling than any money rewards or gifts. By recognition, I mean any type of word or behavior that indicates employees they have done a pretty good job at something or that they need to improve their work at something else.

Even though almost everyone already get this point, managers struggle to deliver constant recognition/feedback when there’s no system implemented that eases the process. Tap my Back tackles most of these challenges. It is a tool designed to facilitate both upwards and downwards recognition in a fun and frictionless way. Either for remote or local team’s recognition may be made publicly or privately to any specific worker.

A plus of using such a tool, is the fact that it provides team leaders with analytics and insights on the recognition given throughout the organization allowing them to become better and more informed managers.

  1. Fire underperformers

Even though it may seem a paradox in terms of team motivation, firing underperformers works well on motivating your best employees. When other employees see these individuals getting away with underperformance, then they feel it’s ok within the company culture to perform at lower levels. Therefore, firing—if you explain to your team why people were fired—can motivate employees to improve daily.

  1. Encourage Innovation and Creativity

As a manager, you must realize that the clear majority of innovations come from the people who are manufacturing your products, designing your services or the ones who are interacting with customers.

Fostering creativity across your team will not only bolster employee motivation but also helps creating a more flexible and comfortable working environment where creativity is much welcome.

Disruption either in terms of products, markets or processes is the common ground of every growing company

  1. Invest in staff learning opportunities

People who get the chance to grow their skills and expertise take more pride in their jobs, you should encourage employees in your organization to gain new skills. However, providing trainings and learning programs is not enough. You must ensure that employees are able to apply the knowledge gained to accomplish their work and further benefit their career utility.

You can do this in many ways, such as providing on-the-job training and other opportunities to teach your employees new skills.

  1. Do not hire Clones

It often happens that new employees dress, sound and think the same way as the one who recruited them. The last thing any entrepreneur should try is to recruit a bunch of “mini-me’s”. Rather try surrounding yourself with experts who excel in different areas and bring unique perspectives. It will create a much more exciting environment for everyone on your company.

This article was originally published on Tap My Back. To download the free guide on Best Practices to Engage Employees, please click here.

Photo Credit: brendendamo Flickr via Compfight cc

Recognize, Reward And Engage Your Multi-Generational Workforce

I was at the Genius Bar the other day soaking up the smarts and getting an introduction to the benefits of backing up data before updating to a new OS. As is so often the case at the Apple store, I found myself working with people from several generations. They seemed to be collaborating with relative harmony and purpose to ensure my data wasn’t lost forever, they seemed for the most part happy, and they seemed engaged in their jobs – from the store concierge (no, not a greeter, and not a Baby Boomer either) to the flight deck controller at the Genius Bar, to the Genius. Many leaders and HR pros are struggling to find a way to make multi-generational workforces mesh and be productive. The chatter is all about the changing workforce and managing generational “differences” or as I prefer to say “nuances”. We talk a lot about how each group has specific needs – Traditionalists, Boomers, Gen X, and Millennials. We talk about how generational differences often seem to polarize the workplace, and what to do about it. It’s sad to say, but I don’t see the same patterns in many corporate settings.

When will we finally be ready to walk the walk (less talk, more action already) about bringing people together? Where does being an authentic leader fit into this equation? Will focusing on data and generational differences truly help our current employee engagement crisis? Why are we still asking these questions?

The best leaders recognize these nuances and understand how to engage – and in my opinion – Champion the similarities (there are more than differences by the way) to engage. Here’s how today’s workforce breaks down for those who want a refresher or are simply data driven:

Traditionalists, the group born before 1945, are also the smallest group in the workforce today at about 12 %, according to Gallup. Born in the hard times of the Great Depression through WWII, this generation values is fatalistic. They value hard work. They view their relationship with employers as a responsibility. Most have retired, but those who’ve hung in may be seen as inflexible fossils by the rest of the organization. Their willingness to work hard may be paired with inflexibility. Fail to recognize their deep experience and you will be rewarded with a failure to engage.

Boomers, born into the relative ease and prosperity of post WWII through the mid Sixties, are the suburban generation, the Woodstock generation. They want to be valued as individuals (not unlike Millennials). They want to be needed. They think they deserve good fortune (again, not unlike Millennials), they’re generally optimistic, and they think things will get better although they may not want to take responsibility for actually making things better. They’re loyal as long as they feel involved but disengage rapidly when they think their contributions aren’t appropriately recognized and rewarded. Respect is a path to engagement with this group.

Gen X, a relatively small generation at 41 million, is sometimes called the Forgotten Generation. They are pragmatic, skeptical of leadership, and quick to disengage if they feel slighted. They demand work-life balance but reject rules. They want to do things their way and may not respect Boomers (selfish) but may have an affinity for Traditionalists, the Silent Generation, whom they view as sharing the curse of being overlooked in the workplace. Gen X is dangerously disengaged. They lack the optimism of the Boomers, share the fatalism of the Traditionalists, and dismiss what they see as the entitled attitude of the Millennials. To engage Gen X, leaders must give them the space to do it their own way, relax the rules a bit, and realize they’ll question every attempt made to engage them.

Millennials, a generation which accounts for about 77 million individuals, according to Pew Research, is roughly the same size as the Boomers (76 million). Millennials were told ‘Good Job!’ and “You’re so smart!’ by indulgent Boomer parents. They demand recognition for even routine tasks, want to know why before they do anything, and expect to be consulted on matters big and small. They see work-life balance as a birthright, value innovation and chafe at having to work with people they see as less bright, tech-savvy and social as themselves. They’ll be most engaged when working with people they think are smart, social and committed.

With so many disparate needs and motivators, what can leaders do to increase employee engagement? It’s really pretty straightforward:

  1. Recognize and reward people.Forget about what generation for a moment.A one-size-fits-all reward and recognition programs will fail no matter who you are dealing with. When you understand what motivates (or sets off) certain generational groups or individuals, you can tailor your response, build more effective teams, and adjust recognition and reward programs.
  1. Acknowledge shared needs. No one likes surprises; everyone craves respect; everyone wants to feel included in the forward motion of the organization; everyone hungers to learn, and we all need pretty continuous feedback. Build your culture on the shared needs of the multi-generational workforce and you’ll see fewer cracks in the foundation.
  1. Engage by creating a sense of teamwork that spans generations. There’s a place for everyone in the world of work. The work ethic of Traditionalists can inspire all groups. The optimism of Boomers can help all employees see the positives in the organization. The skepticism of Gen X will keep everyone honest. The enthusiasm and self-confidence of Millennials is infectious and inspiring if it’s channeled. Teams are made up of individuals with a shared goal; build your organization’s goals around a shared sense of work and responsibility, a sense of optimism, healthy skepticism, enthusiasm, and confidence in the organization’s mission.

It wouldn’t be real if I didn’t add that leaders need to build trust with employees by engaging at an emotional level. To manage multigenerational workforces, Recognize that the people who work for you are individuals with intrinsic human value. Reward excellence, and encourage and educate those who come up short. Engage by committing to shared goals, committing to building a great place to work, and sharing your sense of engagement with the goals of the organization.

A version of this was first posted on Forbes.

Photo Credit: Phenom Apps images via Compfight cc