Published Date: 03/24/2014
By Reneé Watkins
Gallup’s recent employee engagement survey reports 71 percent of American employees are not engaged in their current role. How can employers motivate their employees to get engaged? The truth is, you may not be able to.
A natural assumption has always been that money is the best motivator. With a struggling economy over the last several years, it has seldom been feasible to provide employees with the level of compensation increases they may have been expecting. It may be just as well. According to Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic’s recent article in the Harvard Business Review regarding what motivates today’s employees, “money does not buy engagement.”
So, what does work? Various scientific studies suggest that when people have interest in or enjoy a task they are involved with they get a great deal of satisfaction from what they are doing. This seems to make perfect sense and job satisfaction should lead to employee engagement.
Studies have also shown that most people do not know how to create motivation for themselves. They tend to accept the fact that they are either motivated or they are not. Knowing themselves better than anyone, if a person is unable to find their own motivation, how can they expect their employer to know how to motivate them?
As employers, we may not know exactly how to motivate our employees. So perhaps we should examine what we can do instead to assist employees in finding out what motivates them and to act upon it. Rather than be the “motivator,” maybe we should try being the “spark” that inspires motivation from within.
Take an opportunity to have a conversation with an employee who appears to be disengaged. Let them know it is okay to feel this way and you would like to help them attain more satisfaction at work. Start by asking them the following questions to get the conversation going:
- What has been your most exciting accomplishment at work this month?
- Do you feel your current position is your ideal job? What would make it more enjoyable for you?
- Do you feel you are getting a sense of purpose from the company? Are we making the best use of your talents, and do you feel a part of the team?
Ask your employees to give some thought to how they could achieve a higher degree of job satisfaction. Ask them to also bring you their ideas on a monthly basis for ways to improve processes within the organization. By asking an employee to turn their thoughts inward and examine a little more closely why they are not currently satisfied and what can be done to change that, you will both share in the responsibility of re-engagement, and the success that follows.