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Sustaining Employee Engagement

Sustaining Employee Engagement

Is it easy to spot engaged, motivated employees as you move around your organization? Appearance alone can be misleading. And just because someone is motivated today, doesn’t mean they will stay that way. Buying motivation with rewards isn’t enough for sustaining employee engagement.

If you are looking for insights into what is more effective, you can conduct an employee engagement survey…but it may not be as effective as simply taking the time to talk to people and get to know them well.

Key Questions to Sustaining Employee Engagement

Q:Why is it important to cultivate an understanding of what matters to them? Because, without that connection, your team members are at risk of feeling disconnected and not contributing their personal best.

Q: Can’t you use incentives, rewards, recognition and praise to encourage engagement? If you only rely on these gestures…they don’t go far enough. There are two kinds of motivators: internal and external.

The challenge with external motivators (something some else does to encourage me) like incentives, awards, etc., is they are short lived. They can stimulate bursts of activity but rarely change long term behavior. These tactics quickly move into the expected column if used routinely. There, they lose their ability to change behavior for the long term. 

 Internal motivators are longer acting, more powerful and often fall under these themes:

  • Some people seek the challenge of wanting to learn and grow
  • Some people are motivated by working toward a purpose
  • Just about everyone wants to feel significant…knowing that they are empowered and what they do is important and relevant.

Sustaining Employee EngagementPeople aren’t interchangeable bots. Internal motivation is felt within an individual. You can’t do it for someone, but at the same time, you must provide conditions that support it: opportunities to learn and grow, a connection to values that are important to them and a place where they are empowered to contribute work they feel is important and relevant. When these conditions are consistent…there is a higher likelihood your team members are motivated and doing their best.

If an individual lacks a personal connection like these, they may not be disgruntled…but it’s tough for them to feel excited.

Engagement is an emotional connection someone has with what they do. They feel something. Taking time to talk with them gives you the insight you need to understand what it will take for them to make that personal connection that results in a motivated individual.

The challenge in so many organizations is that the social intelligence it takes to do this meaningfully is missing from management skills.

Organizations invest time and energy in training around job skills and business acumen but invest little to nothing in grooming leadership qualities or focusing on social intelligence.

There are ongoing leadership behaviors that either support or diminish a work culture of employee engagement. Surveys don’t change demotivating factors. Leadership development can. But only if you make the investment.

In the long run, leadership development will pay higher lasting dividends for sustaining employee engagement and motivation than continually having to bribe people.


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