6 min read
We all know the feeling of finishing a successful, productive day at work. You feel accomplished and satisfied, and that positivity radiates to everything and everyone else around you. I know that this year in particular, these days are few and far between for many of us.
But one of the reasons why I love my job is being able to make those good days happen more often for more people.
When the pandemic started to impact businesses, adrenaline kicked in and many leaders channeled that energy into great initiatives and behaviors that helped improve team connection, culture and productivity.
I have been impressed and inspired by the way we have seen people come together, more determined than ever before to get through the physically, financially and emotionally-challenging time. This positive response from employers has paid dividends in our engagement journey. What’s more, Gallup found that in early May, the percentage of engaged workers rose to a record high:
But that adrenaline has worn off and fatigue has set in. In June, Gallup saw a record dip in engagement, and it’s become obvious that improving culture in this new environment is a marathon, not a sprint.
We need to ask ourselves: How will our business and HR strategies adapt and take the best of what we have learned and experienced into the next chapter of the employee experience?
Now is the time to ask ourselves if the people programs we invest our time in are designed to improve motivation and company culture beyond COVID-19, and boost productivity despite the obstacles we are currently facing. To continue this journey and bring our people on it with us, we need to check our bearings, recalculate the route we were on or we may even change the destination we had set earlier in the year. Are the goals you set in December or January still the ones that are going to get your teams performing at their best in the next few months?
At Reward Gateway, we use the Employee Engagement Quadrant to help leaders avoid losing great talent by identifying areas that need mobilizing and motivating.
The y-axis indicates an employee’s discretionary effort, the x-axis indicates their intent to stay at the organization.
These employees actively challenge and undermine whatever efforts you or your leaders are making to grow, improve or make any sort of positive difference. Detractors like to blame others when things go wrong – they’re constantly "victims" of a bad system, poor leadership or low resources. They thrive on disagreement and negativity and happily spread it at any opportunity.
Generally speaking, Detractors are easy to spot because they’re vocal, but if we have teams working remotely, it may also be harder to see the seeds of doubts that Detractors plant in their behavior and their words.
The current job market also means Detractors are likely to have lost their willingness to risk unemployment and have increased their intent to stay, so the risk is they move across to stayers.
To improve a culture of Detractors:
These employees are reliable and have plenty of experience and knowledge about the business. While this makes them a huge asset, this can unfortunately mean they’re path dependent and likely resist change and impede innovation. They generally do what is absolutely necessary to safely fly under the radar and don’t want anything to rock the boat.
The risk is that COVID-19 has increased the number of stayers within our companies. How do we ignite purpose and passion within these employees and inspire them to bring their best, at a time when your company needs it to survive and thrive?
To improve a culture of Stayers:
These employees are talented, self-motivated and driven to deliver high-quality work. However, while they often start off highly engaged, they usually are only engaged for as long as it benefits their own interests – their current role or your company might be a stepping stone for them. This means they don’t often consider the bigger picture or mission of the company, and can sometimes go rogue if decisions don’t suit them.
To improve a culture of Go-Getters:
We refer to these employees as Ambassadors – they’re high performers that not only enjoy their job and consistently deliver high-quality work, they’re loyal to the company and make decisions based on the long-term good and survival of the broader team or group.
They focus on a constructive – not destructive – approach to questioning management directives or current processes, and bring a positive attitude that brings up the people around them.
High-performing organizations have a high-performance culture because they make it easy for people to move to or stay in that top-right quadrant.
To maintain a culture of Ambassadors:
Leaders can make decisions to positively influence Detractors and Stayers, and help grow the loyalty of the Go Getters in your team so that the majority of your workforce are Ambassadors.
On the other side of the coin is if we don’t progress or change the culture, Ambassadors can wear out and either slip to another quadrant, or choose to take their energy and loyalty elsewhere.
This is one reason why effective leaders keep a regular pulse on how employees are doing, so they can ensure their people programs are relevant, impactful and are mobilizing people into that top-right quadrant.
As you consider the tools you need to invest in over the coming months, consider how these will help you shift more employees into the Ambassadors quadrant, and how this will help you build a stronger team that can take on the challenges of an unpredictable, changing work environment.
I hope you will continue to maintain momentum through this journey and if there is any way our team can support you, get in touch with us.
Kylie Green is the Global SVP of Consultancy at Reward Gateway. She has over 20 years of experience working with world's top companies to take their employee engagement strategy to the next level and loves helping leaders find innovative ways to connect with their people and build high-performing, world-class teams.
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