Most employers know that today, there are two different kinds of employees. There are the vast majority of them, who simply show up and do their jobs somewhat robotically because they need to pay the bills. Then there is the tiny slice of truly inspired employees: those who are fully engaged with their jobs, enjoy their work and find meaning in it, and take their job’s mission – such as helping people or solving problems – to heart.
Research tells us that most American employees are disengaged from their jobs, and this is a big problem. Engaged employees are far more productive and innovative, and are needed to grow a company successfully. Recent years of layoffs, hiring freezes and little to no raises haven’t helped. Employees feel like they’ve given all they have to give, and it’s now their employer’s turn to give.
Hyoun Park (News - Alert), writing for CMS Wire, says many companies believe it’s an issue that can be solved with technology.
“To solve this problem, we often turn to technology solutions that supposedly improve employee engagement,” Park writes. “Intranets. Social networks. Community management. Gamification. Innovation software. Human Resources policy management. Compensation management solutions. Process management. Document management. All of these technologies are supposed to help us with this core problem of employee engagement. Many of these technologies get purchased with this problem in mind, only to find that they don’t end up making a whole lot of difference.”
There are many reasons for this. Either employees don’t care to learn a new technology or it’s simply too complex for them to master, so the solution gets bought but doesn’t get used. Employees may be tied to their “old ways” too strongly and resist changing their processes. They may not have strong executive buy-in. Whatever the reason, Park says poorly used new technologies are not the primary reason employees are disengaged.
What fosters employee engagement isn’t technology (though that’s what can enable it). It’s the ability to be able to match personal and company goals and find value in pursuing them. It’s a sense of fairness that the rules and benefits are applied equally across all employees. It’s recognition for a job well done, and a sense of accomplishment. So a “build up employee engagement” programs needs to have these goals at its heart.
“Provide an environment where employees can pursue their goals in conjunction with your corporate goals,” writes Park. “Sometimes this is as simple as providing a discussion board where new moms can give each other tips, runners can get together, musicians can form bands and volunteers can find good charity causes to work on together. Work does not have to be completely separated from play or leisure. There’s a healthy balance. It’s important not to cross the line and invade employee lives too deeply, but there’s no reason that employees shouldn’t be able to gather together based on common interests.”
When employees understand that their actions (or lack of actions) are leading directly to company success (or failure), and showed how this is true, they will be more likely to hitch their personal goal achievement projects with those of the company. And when that happens, everyone wins.