How to pull people up the engagement ladder

Naturally raising the bar on Engagement

We can’t make people change if they don’t want to, but we can create the environment for it to happen.

Companies spend over $720 million each year on employee engagement, and that is projected to rise to over $1.5 billion. And yet, employee engagement is at record lows — 15% according to perennial engagement survey leader Gallup.

What can we practically do as a leader in our organizations to bring the best out of our people?

How can we help employees realize their full potential and find and fulfil their purpose without spending more?

The clue is in understanding the hierarchy of human business needs. Creating the environment or the opportunity for individuals to find their purpose and let them achieve their highest level of self-actualization on thier own. Finding and fulfil one’s purpose is a personal journey. We can do something to creat the opportunity for it to happen.

Maslow’s Stage 1: This is all about the basics. Health, pay, work environment. Your employees feel isolated, unhappy and disengaged. They don’t know how their work impacts the greater good of the company, and haven’t found many opportunities to connect with other team members. Their basic physiological needs are not fulfilled.

Solution: Have basic operations up and working. In the management context, re-focus and train with empathy. Help them build confidence in themselves. Pay value and personal lifestyle need to be understood by the leader. Question to answer: Am I in the right place and is it fulfilling my basic needs? Creating an environment to know co-workers outside the work context will help.

Maslow’s Stage 2: Tackle the not engaged. These are the people who do what is expected of them, but nothing more. These employees need more support and recognition from their peers and managers. They want to know and be told that they are doing a good job.

Solution: Building a strong sense of community. The focus should be on fostering strong manageremployee relationships and start to journey to understand their purpose. Weekly one-on-one’s and have at least bi-weekly team meetings. Invite people to contribute at meetings and recognize their efforts. This will lead to self-discovery and meaning. Managers account for 70% variance in employee engagement scores, so don’t overlook this influential relationship.

Maslow’s Stage 3: Engage the almost engaged. At this stage, your employees want to know how the work they do directly impact your organization.

Solution: Offer focus groups, and brainstorm sessions that allow employees to innovate, share ideas, and provide feedback on company-wide programs and initiatives. This is an empowering and effective way to give your employees a voice in matters beyond their day-to-day responsibilities. Make the link to help them understand through their actions that what they do today directly contributes to the company values. Linking it to money or shareholder value is taking a step backwards.

Maslow’s Stage 4: Your employees are engaged, but that’s not enough. Your employees feel good about their community, your company and the work that they do. Now it’s time they feel good about themselves. This is critical for retention and loyalty.

Solution: Provide your employees with social, environmental or community opportunities. These programs help your employees find a greater sense of purpose and fulfil their need to be part of a bigger story. Helping them realize that in work and personal lives we all have the same values, mission and purpose.

Maslow’s Stage 5: Strive for excellence. Everyone’s end goal is to have a team of highly engaged employees! These are the employees who are deeply rooted in your companies mission, inspire others, and foster a positive company culture, so use them as a resource and let them continue to build themselves, the community and the company.

Solution: This is where innovation happens. Empower them to share ideas, build new programs, run events, and further help you shape the workforce. Create the chance for them to lead by example and inspire the group.

The most trusted, inspiring and purpose-driven companies will attract and retain the top talent. It’s a challenge to get people to change if they don’t want to for some reason. However, it’s enough to simply create the environment for it to happen, help people feel part of a bigger story, put them in a situation that helps them see things from a different angle, and then watch the magic happen. People will naturally pull people up the ladder.

Marc Bouvron