Making work a better place

November 8, 2017 Sam Dawson 0 Comment

So, let’s consider this a bit of a manifesto for the Engaged Culture Company. In fact, let’s go wider and consider this a mission for people and work.

In this blog I’m going to tell you why people work, how your organisation can harness that and ultimately how businesses can improve performance by making work a better place. If that doesn’t interest you or you have all the answers already then stop here! If not, grab yourself a coffee and read on….

First of all, as I’m feeling controversial today, if you’re running an employee survey then STOP. Not forever of course, but take some time out to think about why you’re really doing it and how to really make the most of it. To do that, let me help out on some basics.

Why do you go to work everyday?

On the face of it people work for money. I’m sure you get up every day and think that you just don’t get paid enough for that early morning commute / terrible boss / lack of certainty at the office. I’m pretty convinced on Sunday evenings you turn to the solace of internet job pages. You dream of a future where you finally have the cash to finance your dream of a Harley Davidson, a finca in Ibiza or a world tour as a Cher tribute act. Engagement surveys will show you about two thirds of people also feel underpaid, so you, and the majority of the workforce, are not alone.

However, as the Beatles will tell you ‘money can’t buy you love’, and research also suggest that working is not all about the money. In fact, a study https://nus.edu/2yVhEhI found that 86% of US lottery winners returned to work after receiving their payouts, and get this, 63% of people return to their same employer.

So, what is it that people look to work for, even when on the face of it they don’t have to be there?

There are lots of theories of motivation out there but I often find it’s best to go back to the basics. There’s a nice simple theory by Hertzberg, which suggests there are both hygiene factors and motivating factors at work. Hygiene factors are those things that form the bedrock of a stable work environment, so things like working conditions and salary. But, in themselves, these things aren’t inspiring people to perform. The things that really get people out of bed every morning are things like: Achievement, Recognition and Personal growth.

How can organisations harness this?

Many organisations have lost their way on the path to this thing called ‘Engagement’. Their efforts have often been caught up in large industrial survey programs. The effort input into these programs has obscured what engagement really means. At the heart of it, it’s about an individual’s personal relationship with an often amorphous organisational entity. Like any relationship, there are going to be good and bad days, but there needs to be a core of trust and joint understanding for the thing to work. Much of that is inherent in the relationship between managers and their teams.

That’s why some of the best organisations I have seen in engaging their employees have ditched the traditional paradigm of looking at their survey data and top level action plans. They have instead concentrated on nurturing the relationship between the company and it’s people.

They do a number of things to help them get there:

Spark: They design and embed a people listening and engagement program in line with their strategy.

Grow: They develop the relationship between people and the organization through developing managers in the right way, often starting with the much overlooked basics of what it means to be a great manager

Pulse: They measure what matters, and hold themselves accountable for making a difference. They also understand that numbers are just numbers and sometimes you’ve just got to get out there and talk to people.
All this improves business performance

We all know that in relationships there are no quick fixes and immediate answers to everlasting happiness, but really listening to people and working on how people feel is a key ingredient for success. The impact of engaged employees improving business performance is well documented, see all the examples from Engage for Success http://engageforsuccess.org for example.

Back to the next line of that Beatles song and it’s one your employees are singing in their heads everyday: “I’ll give you all I got to give if you say you’ll love me too”. Stands as much for personal relationships as it does for employee engagement, which after all, are pretty much the same thing.

So, start to embed some love as well as survey results into your engagement strategy and you’ll be making the right steps on the path to relationship success.

Let’s make work a better place. 

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