Disengaged Employees

How to rehabilitate disengaged employees

Disengagement in the workplace is a problem that’s all too common these days, and disengaged employees have a negative impact on both their coworkers and businesses as a whole. A Gallup poll found that fewer than 31 percent of American workers felt engaged in their jobs, while 17.5 percent were “actively disengaged.” Because these workers can wreak havoc on productivity and morale, you need to be able to recognize the signs of disengagement so you can address it as it happens.

Signs of disengagement in employees

  • Withdrawal from participation: An employee who suddenly begins to miss meetings, starts leaving early, or takes extra days off may be disengaged. Likewise, a significant withdrawal from normal work conversations may also indicate a problem. As a manager, you should watch for changes that stray from an employee’s long-standing behavior or routine.
  • Undermining and gossiping: Employees who feel disconnected from their workplace can also develop grudges against coworkers or managers. They sometimes engage in gossip that undermines company goals, and they may even intentionally spread misinformation.
  • Apathy and poor follow-through: Disengagement typically results in employees who are no longer aligned with organizational goals. For this reason, you may notice that they don’t care about the quality of their work and that they substitute excuses for task completion.

How to rehabilitate a disengaged employee

Start by reaching out to a disengaged employee to see how they’re feeling. They may be facing issues or obstacles that you can help solve. Human resources and team leaders can work together on this goal, interviewing the employee to discover their concern, be it a family need that makes a current schedule unworkable or a conflict with an immediate manager. Active listening is crucial here, and so is a willingness to make changes. Team reassignments, flexible scheduling, extra training opportunities, and other types of reorganization should all be on the table when mitigating issues with employee motivation.

While individual employee concerns can be specific and situational, proactive solutions to employee disengagement require an awareness of demographic trends. An extensive report on disengagement by AON Hewitt notes that the leading aspects of job engagement for millennial workers are career opportunities, good manager performance, company reputation, pay scale, and good communication. That means that the engagement programs you’ve had in place for one generation of employees might not be as powerful for a different generation. Determine what kinds of company-wide systems you need to have in place to reduce disengagement, whether it’s more manager training, better onboarding, employee recognition and rewards, or a more meaningful company mission.

How to motivate employees during the holidays

How to motivate employees during the holiday season

The winter holiday season is often a distracting time for employees. They may be hosting family members or planning to travel, the kids are home from school, and they may be working under generalized holiday stress. The common outcome for business is a high absentee rate and a distracted work force, leading directly to lowered productivity. As a manager, it’s your job to find positive ways to keep everyone on task. Below are three basic tips to keep your employees enthusiastic about their jobs despite the pressures of the season.

Plan ahead and be flexible

Don’t let holiday scheduling sneak up on you. Meet with your staff right now to go over everyone’s scheduling needs and to make sure the office doesn’t end up shorthanded. Nothing adds to holiday burnout more quickly than employees being forced to do someone else’s work in addition to their own. If your staff can work remotely, consider letting them extend their time away while still meeting productivity goals. Also remember that winter holiday travel can be affected by weather, and half your team could end up snowed in at an airport across the country. Likewise, allowing schedules to flex a bit to accommodate holiday obligations can help support your employees’ work-life balance and build loyalty to your company.

Create a festive atmosphere

Your employees are going to appreciate your acknowledgment that the holiday season is special. Business Know-How notes that you can increase employee motivation by offering a few celebratory observances. “Secret Santa” exchanges are popular and cost-free for your company. Plus, supplying an assortment of treats and decorations that recognize all of the different holidays that are celebrated during this season can create an atmosphere of emotional warmth. If possible, schedule a holiday party during the workday, so you’ll avoid putting pressure on your employees to invest scarce personal time in work-related events.

Offer rewards and recognition

Kimberly Merriman, associate professor of management at Penn State University, points out that providing parties, gifts, and other forms of acknowledgment carries important symbolic value: “They send a message that the employment relationship is more than simply a transactional one.” A Glassdoor survey focusing on holiday recognition found that “53 percent of employees would stay at their company longer if they felt more appreciation from their boss.”

Knowing how to motivate employees is essential throughout the year, but it takes on unique importance during the holiday season. If you plan ahead, create warmth and recognize each employee’s unique contribution, you can build good will that may last until next year’s holiday season.

Employee Retention Raise

How to retain your best employees when you can’t afford to give them a raise

When employees have done great work, they expect some form of acknowledgment. In a competitive marketplace where your top talent always has their eye on the next stepping stone in their career, your organization must win employee loyalty through tangible appreciation. Budgetary constraints can be relentless, however, and often prevent appreciative managers from offering a raise. If you find yourself seeking creative ways to increase employee retention and reward exceptional worker effort, here are a few useful points to keep in mind.

Salary isn’t the key factor in engagement

Traditional business wisdom tends to equate employee rewards with raises and annual bonuses, but in today’s workplace, researchers have found that compensation levels don’t always have a strong effect on employee motivation. Harvard Business Review (HBR) points out that rewarding good performance with raises isn’t the most effective way of engaging your workforce. As a matter of fact, a number of studies have found that simply increasing a worker’s annual income level can actually demotivate them. The HBR authors write, “The more people focus on their salaries, the less they will focus on satisfying their intellectual curiosity, learning new skills, or having fun, and those are the very things that make people perform best.” As the study suggests, human beings thrive when they have the chance to develop their knowledge and abilities.

Recognition is a natural human need

Social connections are essential to people’s well-being; CNN cites a study in which employees state that they would sacrifice up to $30,000 in salary in favor of receiving high praise at work. Autonomy and control over work projects are also identified as key factors in employee well-being, according to research by a neuroscientist and an executive coach published in Forbes. A change in title is another way to express recognition for an employee’s outstanding contribution.

Flexibility is coveted

In addition to their desire for greater personal autonomy over the completion of work projects, today’s employees struggle to balance work commitments with the demands of personal lives. If you reward your employees’ best efforts with flexible work arrangements (FWAs), you’ll enhance your employer brand. An extensive study by the Society for Human Resource Management states that “Ninety-one percent of HR professionals believe implementation of formal FWAs had a positive impact on employee morale (job satisfaction and engagement).”

The success of your organization depends on attracting and retaining highly competent workers. Rewarding your top-tier talent with recognition, autonomy, flexibility and further training opportunities will strengthen your employer brand and build a profitable future for your company.

Employee Motivation

Why you should identify your employees’ intrinsic and extrinsic motivators

New generations entering the workforce have unique perspectives and expectations about meaningful work and motivating rewards. Savvy employers understand the difference between intrinsic and external (extrinsic) motivators and develop engagement programs that recognize and reward employees for exercising the right behaviors and aligning with company goals.

Outside in: intrinsic versus external motivators

A motivated employee is more likely to go beyond minimum work expectations, deliver high-quality work, and seek out new challenges. Motivation is a quality that energizes and guides behavior, and each of your employees has different motivators:

External (extrinsic) motivators: An employee motivated by external rewards performs work to specifically earn a reward meted out by the employer. The rewards are tangible and often monetary, like pay increases, new benefits, bonuses, or promotions.

Intrinsic motivators: Employees motivated by intrinsic rewards complete work because it is personally rewarding. These are psychological motivators, and they typically fall into four reward categories: meaningfulness, choice, competence, and progress.

You need to understand the different sources of employee motivation so that you can train managers to match the right rewards and recognition styles to the right employee. If you don’t understand what motivates the multigenerational workforce, you might start losing talent. As the economy picks up, many workers are no longer satisfied staying in jobs that don’t feel rewarding most of the time.

Motivating at all ages

The workforce is now composed of four generations of employees: Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Generation Y (millennials).

Traditionalists typically get satisfaction from doing a good job, and so are considered self-motivated. They’ve also worked for decades for organizations that rewarded strictly through salary increases and anniversary awards, so they tend to expect less praise and fewer spot bonuses.

Baby Boomers tend to be more motivated than the Traditionalists by work-life balance. They are loyal to their organizations and enjoy sharing their knowledge and experience. Baby Boomers often appreciate more traditional rewards, like items with monetary value, and recognition that they are balancing external duties in their personal lives.

Gen Xers typically have a more individualistic perspective about work. People in this group are after the traditional trappings of success, such as promotions, corner offices, and financial benefits that will help them support their families.

Millennials usually appreciate rewards that let them control their work time, enjoy personal activities, and support their passion for charities, the environment, and social causes. They often prioritize work flexibility over salary and monetary rewards. Millennials also tend to crave feedback, so they can be motivated well by pats on the back and public praise.

Developing an impactful reward system

Salary increases and annual bonuses alone are not the answer to raising levels of employee engagement. A review of 120 years of research found a weak link between salary and job satisfaction, and this is true globally. Salary is important at the point of hiring but becomes less important once an employee is on board. Global employers, in particular, are challenged with engaging and motivating a geographically dispersed workforce. How do you:

  • Understand and address each employee’s motivators
  • Engage the workforce as a whole
  • Align workforce performance across the organization
  • Develop an impactful and fair reward system that includes both intrinsic and extrinsic incentives

Single platform for multiple results

The answer is found in technology. Reward & recognition platforms (like the Achievers Employee Success Platform™), allow employees to earn a mix of public praise and appreciation (which taps into those intrinsic motivators), as well as redeemable points (which tap into extrinsic, monetary motivators).

When you provide employees with a marketplace of items they can shop for with the points they’ve earned, you’re providing a truly tailored experience for each person. Employees are empowered to select the item that’s most meaningful to them, whether it’s plane tickets for a dream vacation, a designer bag, charitable donations, or a Visa® prepaid card they can use for daily expenses.

Forget hierarchy and status

The single platform as a reward system has two important advantages. You can collect global performance data at every level of the organization, and employees can pick the rewards that mean the most to them. The rewards are not tied to an employee’s tenure or their status in a hierarchy, like most traditional reward systems.

You can continue to link the remuneration to your employee’s role, but any reward system should be flexible enough to acknowledge external motivations and the four groups that comprise opportunities for intrinsic motivation. Attract, engage, and align employees, and give them the rewards they want for exhibiting the right behaviors. It’s the formula for a successful employee engagement strategy.

Employee Motivation Statistics

23 employee motivation statistics to silence naysayers

This article originally appeared on the Blackhawk Engagement Solutions blog

Although finding the right rewards and building upon the right tools can be a challenge to implementing a new incentive program, the toughest aspect for any organization is silencing naysayers and getting buy-in from management.

To help with your efforts to build momentum for your incentive efforts, we’ve compiled a list of 23 employee motivation statistics that you can use to sell your supervisors and coworkers on the idea of an employee incentive program. We’ve even organized them as rebuttals to the most common concerns we hear from skeptical managers:

“Employee incentive programs are a fad.”

Not true.

  • Most organizations (86%) have a rewards and/or recognition program in place.
  • 70% of those organizations offer between 3 and 6 different programs.
  • Incentives are part of a $100+ billion industry, $46 billion of which is non-cash incentives (a number that’s doubled in the past 10 years).
  • 89% of employers assume that their employees leave for more money elsewhere, but only 12% of employees actually earn more from their next company.

“We don’t need a program” or “We can’t afford a new program right now.”

Here’s the thing: it’s not really about the need or the cost. It’s about the return on investment. After all, if your organization could get back in productivity double what it pays for a program, wouldn’t it be smart to invest?

One of the main reasons why decision-makers don’t pull the trigger on a program is because they can’t see its direct connection with a predictable return. But you can show them employee motivation statistics that support the significant contributions employee motivation programs make to the bottom line.

For example, incentive programs are valuable for attracting talent:

  • 90% of business leaders believe that an engagement strategy could positively impact their business, yet only 25% of them actually have a strategy in place.
  • More than 4 out of 10 (42%) employees consider rewards and recognition program opportunities when seeking employment.
  • 51% of sales talent and 52% of employees are already participating in some sort of program where they work.
  • 39% of employees feel underappreciated at work, with 77% reporting that they would work harder if they felt better recognized.

And for retaining talent:

  • According to a recent CareerBuilder/USA Today survey, 56% of HR managers are worried that their top talent will leave for another job within the year.
  • 75% of people who willingly leave their jobs don’t quit their jobs, they quit their bosses.
  • The presence of a corporate incentive program motivated 66% of employees to stay at their job.
  • Organizations that offer at least one recognition program and that have a low turnover rate (0%-5%) report statistically more recognition programs in place than the medium or high turnover categories.
  • A 5% increase in employee retention can generate a 25% to 85% increase in profitability.

Plus, your employees won’t just stay. Their attitude will be better, which will improve customer service. For example:

  • 41% of customers are loyal to a brand or company because they consistently notice a positive employee attitude, while 68% of customers defect from a brand or company because of negative employee attitude.
  • Only 40% of employees are well informed of their company’s goals, strategy, and tactics.

And let’s not forget the employee motivation statistics about engagement:

  • Disengaged workers cost the economy $300 billion or more per year.
  • Companies that actively engage workers profit more than those that don’t. If you look at Fortune’s “Best 100 Companies to Work For,” these organizations have averaged an amazing 200.6% return over the past decade.
  • Organizations with higher than average levels of employee engagement realized 27% higher profits, 50% higher sales, 50% higher customer loyalty levels, and 38% above-average productivity.

“But employee incentive programs don’t really work.”

If an incentive program doesn’t work, it’s usually because the program was poorly designed, difficult to manage, or both. Employee buy-in and management support are critical factors, as the following statistics show:

  • Companies using incentive programs reported a 79% success rate in achieving their established goals when the correct reward was offered.
  • Properly structured incentive programs can increase employee performance by as much as 44%.
  • Annual revenue increases are 3 times higher in companies that use a tangible sales incentive over those that don’t use an additional incentive. When incentive programs are working, the potential for growth is much, much higher.

Employee Incentive Program Success

When looking to achieve long-term success through an employee incentive program, a number of factors need to be considered. 70% of Forbes Global 2000 companies use gamification to boost retention, engagement, and revenues. With that in mind, along with the employee motivation statistics above, we’ve outlined four key areas most important to focus on when managing a successful incentive program:

Promote or Encourage Action

Employees gauge an incentive’s value based on how hard it is to earn. If you set the goal too high, people shrug off the incentive as unrealistic and not worth the effort. But choose a goal that’s too easy, and it won’t be significant enough to inspire action. Instead, select rewards that inherently have high enough value to be envied, yet still seem within reach. The trick is to choose a reward that both attracts peer attention and stands out from regular pay. Keep in mind that a reward is often more impactful if it’s something that’s generally too indulgent to be justified in the bigger picture of everyday living expenses.

Ensure That It Produces Measurable Success

One of the biggest roadblocks for companies considering an employee incentive program is a lack of confidence that the benefit can be clearly measured against the cost of investment.  But let’s take a brief look back at the employee motivation statistics listed above to see if such return-on-investment concerns are really justified. In the case of incentive programs having a significant impact on attracting and retaining talent, remember that just a mere 5% increase in employee retention can result in a 25-85% boost in profits. When you consider that it costs 5 times more to obtain a new customer than it does to retain a current one, it’s easy to see the connection between small boosts in retention and large jumps in profits.

Make It Adaptable to Change and Optimization

Another key characteristic of any successful employee incentive program is that it has the ability to easily be adjusted over time to accommodate evolving needs/goals. Giving out iPads to top performers might really motivate your staff, but it’s probably not the best idea in terms of return on investment. Besides, an award like an iPad doesn’t hold the same level of appeal to some employees as it does others, and therefore might not be the best motivator for everyone. Incentive awards don’t necessarily have to be super-expensive (or require a whole roomful of inventory) to accomplish your goals. Prepaid cards, for example, equally excite everyone on your team while saving you a whole host of program management hassles. Because each individual employee gets to envision exactly what he or she would buy with their card, it ensures a consistently meaningful award each and every time.

Keep It Simple

Finally, don’t make the mistake of thinking that a more elaborate incentive program will produce better bottom-line results than a simple one. Many well-intentioned HR managers have failed to design effective incentive programs simply because they built too many rules and conditions into the mix. At the end of the day, it all boils down to motivating employees by giving them a clear, achievable goal, and then rewarding them with something they really want. Not sure where to start? We’ve got some ideas.

A special thanks to the organizations that provided the research behind these statistics, including Gallupthe Incentive Federation the Incentive Research FoundationMaritz, and World at Work.

 

Employee Bonus Plan

Annual bonuses: How much do they actually incentivize employees?

by Andrea Vearncombe, Total Rewards Manager, Achievers

Do you give your employees big annual bonuses as a reward for their work? Or perhaps you just give them out of tradition? If so, you have plenty of company: It’s common to rely on annual bonus plans to build employee motivation and pad salaries. However, a lot of bonus plans aren’t set up in a way that truly motivates good work. There’s a psychology behind rewards and employee incentives that you need to understand before you can create an effective bonus structure.

Do you give them, or do employees earn them?

If bonuses are going to serve as an incentive, you need to provide employees with clear metrics and objectives so that they understand exactly what they need to accomplish to earn the bonus. If you have a structure where everyone gets a bonus no matter what, that will quickly demotivate some employees, because they expect to receive a check regardless of their performance.

In addition to being clear, the bonus objectives need to strike a balance so that they’re not too far-fetched, or too easy. The goals should be attainable.

Too little, too late

Employees come to work every day of the year, and you need them to feel motivated and engaged on each one of those days. Most bonuses, however, only come 1-4 times per year. Even if employees feel a sense of satisfaction when they finally get their check (and research shows that sometimes they don’t), it won’t provide motivation for an employee who faces a challenging work situation weeks or months before bonuses are due. Furthermore, annual bonuses can actually spawn resentment or entitlement, creating interpersonal conflicts among employees or alienation from the company during a financially lean year.

Reward more with less

While financial incentives can be an effective way to motivate and reward employees, employers shouldn’t rely on periodic payout as their only method of engagement. Managers and employees should recognize each other and celebrate accomplishments both large and small all throughout the year. Real-time recognition that’s tied directly to an employee’s contribution is often more effective than the annual bonus—and it costs a lot less.

And if you’re running a recognition program manually with spreadsheets and closets full of rewards, you should know that there is a better way. Check out this whitepaper to learn how to make things easier.

 

Andrea Vearncombe  Andrea Vearncombe is responsible for leading the global total rewards and culture strategy for Achievers in North America and EMEA.