Employee Engagement Part 1

Measuring employee satisfaction to increase employee engagement

In the 1970s George Gallup began measuring how satisfied employees were. Since then every sector of our global economy has strived to measure and determine employee satisfaction or engagement. Several sources and studies placed the market for evaluating employee engagement between $55 and $74 billion. Before jumping and saying, “No way,” consider that is .0004% of the U.S. GDP. Going even further, if knowing how engaged your staff is and then moving the dial even 1% has a payback measured in days or weeks, why wouldn’t you want to know? The data and studies, too numerous to sight, support the value of measuring and addressing employee engagement; demonstrating not just happier more productive employees but also high profit, EBITA, market share, customer satisfaction or any other a business has chosen to focus on.

Culture Matters

So the question then isn’t whether employee engagement analysis is valuable or not. We know culture does matter and the ability to increase employee engagement is the keystone. The real question is what does one do to rise above what one CEO asked me to do “I want you to measure employee satisfaction” or just checking some box? Measuring employee satisfaction is NOT the same as employee engagement. Satisfaction gets to feelings of happiness, whether I would like to make a dollar more an hour or how many times I get patted on the back for a job well done. First, who doesn’t want to make a dollar more an hour?

Second, if you ever took a Psych 101 class, remember that money is only a temporary motivator.

This Ain’t Employee Satisfaction

Employee engagement is very different. First, it is made up of two parts, intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. The easiest way to think about this is whether the forces are from the outside or within the individual. Both are important; however, the way each works is very different. Whether we intuitively understand or not, extrinsic motivation comes from our pay, benefits, recognition, and workplace safety, to name a few; exerting influence from the outside of each of us in our job. Get these right and we can move to deeper types of motivation, but get the wrong answers here and we may never leave the world of high turnover, absenteeism, safety issues, and overall bad morale.

Just one quick example of extrinsic motivation is pay. Data shows we don’t have to pay the top pay regionally, but it does need to be fair. We, the leaders, must make sure everyone who works for us understands their total compensation package, in the context of our respective market and geographical location. When we do that as employers, we take compensation off the table as a concern.

Other Dimensions of Extrinsic Motivation

Once we’ve satisfied employees’ needs involving pay, we need to make sure other dimensions are addressed. Examples of extrinsic motivators are safety, communications, recognition, my immediate manager, or corporate mission and how we weave those into the fabric of our culture.

Then what?

When organizations clear extrinsic motivation barriers we begin to increase employee engagement with intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivations lights up the passions of our associates deep inside of them. The question for you and me as employers is, do I really want to move beyond these external forces of extrinsic motivation to the deeper levels of intrinsic motivation and elevated employee engagement? Honestly, I’d be disappointed if you said no, but for some organization who either can’t and won’t, for reasons only their leadership understands, they will remain stuck. Just be warned; you can’t afford to put off learning where your people are or tapping into their intrinsic motivation forever, so what will you change?

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