It’s been pretty well proven that once someone makes enough money to stop stressing about bills and debt, more money doesn’t tend to make them happier. But Interestingly enough, being happier does make people more profitable as employees. Several recent studies have proven that happy and engaged employees are worth significantly more to you and your company, even if you have to spend some money to make them that way.
Willis Towers Watson, a leading global advisory and solutions company, conducted research which stated that companies that achieve sustained levels of high engagement have margins up to three times higher than their unengaged counterparts. Another study by Gallup showed that companies with the highest levels of engagement were, on average, 22% more profitable and 21% more productive than the companies where engagement was low.
So employee engagement is valuable, but what does it mean exactly? Basically, employee engagement is about motivation. It might be frustrating, but the simple fact is, employees need a reason to do their jobs that goes beyond contracts and salary. To learn a little more about that, we’re going to look at three theories about motivation and their implications in the workplace.
Theory 1: Two-Factor Theory
Basically, this theory says that everything about your job can be put into two groups: stuff that makes you like your job, and stuff that makes you want to quit. Every aspect of your job that you like increases your motivation to do it well, and everything that makes you want to quit makes you more likely to put in the minimal effort. This idea may seem pretty obvious, but its implication is rarely thought about.
By getting to know your employees–their likes and dislikes–you can easily increase their motivation. If you can fix even seemingly insignificant things that are bothering your employees, this respected theory says you should. Every time you grant a schedule change, get the vending machine options updated or give someone a gift card to your brand store, you’re helping lift your employees one rung up the motivation ladder.
Theory 2: Acquired Needs Theory
That name may sound intimidating, but all you need to know is that your employees will thrive under different circumstances because they have different personalities and needs. The first need this theory addresses is a need for achievement. If Ted from accounting is always asking for feedback and using checklists, he might have a need for achievement. The second need to be aware of is the need for socialization. If Chad is talking to his coworkers constantly, if he never stops schmoozing and always seems to have plans for the weekend, he may have a socialization need.
Give achievement-oriented employees lots of small tasks you’re confident they can complete, and try to praise them often and publicly, where possible. To go the extra mile, recognize them with gifts or perks, like some nice company swag. But make sure it’s stuff he actually wants, we’ll talk about that next. For the social butterflies, make sure they have appropriate times to socialize—like scheduled breaks—and invite them to more meetings and outings if you can.
Theory 3: Expectancy Theory
The idea behind this theory is that for people to feel like they should give their all, they have to be able to understand and appreciate how that effort will be rewarded.
To use this to your advantage, it’s essential that employees understand how you measure success. They need to know exactly what is at stake, and they need reassurance that their performance is recognized, appreciated, and will be rewarded.
Clear definitions of success and outlined expectations will help people understand why they should be trying. A huge part of this theory is knowing what people want. If someone believes that trying harder will get them greater rewards, but they don’t want the rewards that you’re offering, they have no reason to put forth any effort. So, communicate with your people openly and often to figure out what they want, or better yet, let them choose their rewards directly.
Why You Should Care?
To summarize what we’ve discovered today, helping employees feel engaged (or motivated) is a surprisingly effective way to increase productivity and profits for your company. By getting to know our employees and adapting jobs to fit their personalities, we make their jobs and lives better, and we improve our company’s bottom-lines.
The great thing about everything we’ve gone over today is that it won’t just make you money. If you implement these strategies, you will make money, but that’s not the only takeaway here.
Life is tough. Sometimes work sucks. If we as managers and business owners can help employees enjoy their jobs, why wouldn’t we? Money is important, and if you ask us, we don’t think it’s a bad reason to help people. But at the risk of sounding cliché, making people happy is a pretty good reason too. When you can do both at the same time- It’s a no-brainer.