I have some questions that have been troubling me for a long time.
The first: Why aren’t more people motivated and committed at work?
And the next two: Why aren’t they more engaged?
And why the heck aren’t more leaders using the power of employee recognition to create better workplaces and spark improved business results?
In the early 1990s, I took over Buckman’s Bakery and Ice Cream, a retail and wholesale business that was on the verge of bankruptcy. My business partner and I were appalled by the filthy conditions of the facility, but were even more shocked by the people working there.
They seemed unmotivated and often lazy and apathetic to the customer experience. Yet in three short years, we sold the shop for 10 times what we paid for it.
How? We focussed on engaging our employees and making our little shop a great place to work and do business with. In essence, we made a better place to work. Our staff understood the experience we were trying to deliver, and they understood the importance of their role in delivering it. When they did a good job, we acknowledged their actions and they heard about it from their peers.
They worked hard, and it showed. Customers enjoyed interacting with our staff, they came back over and over and they told their friends about it. Very quickly, we began to grow a positive reputation in the community.
From ice cream to employee engagement
Why am I sharing this story?
Because it ties into the questions I posed to you before. Buckman’s was the first stepping stone on my path to finding answers and making a meaningful, positive difference in the world.
I wanted to help organisations develop better leaders, encourage employee motivation and earn trust and commitment among all employees, managers and executives on what it takes to live an organization’s core values.
If I could do that, I would be helping to make better places to work while showing how culture and the employee experience impacts an organisation’s bottom line.
So, I founded a company called Brand Integrity. Over the course of 16 years, we helped thousands of leaders across hundreds of organisations and I’ve gained a better understanding of what companies do well and where they fall short in engaging the hearts and minds of their employees.
My latest book, “CRAVE: You Can Enhance Employee Motivation in 10 Minutes by Friday™,” comes out 3 October. CRAVE combines my experience working with leaders and my team at Brand Integrity with the over 80 years of research into what motivates people at work. It explores how humans have three primary cravings at work that, once fulfilled, make them happier and more productive:
Help me feel respected for the work I do.
Show me how what I do has purpose, makes a difference, and is relevant to the organisation.
Help me build stronger connections with people, especially my immediate manager/supervisor.
When employees get what they crave, good things happen: employee engagement, the work culture and customer experiences all improve. Which ultimately leads to your organisation’s ability to achieve its desired business results. Just like we did with Buckman’s and like I witnessed at Brand Integrity and with our clients.
Leaders who are not engaged suffer in more ways than one. The unhappiness and stress at work spreads to employees who then take it out on customers or take it home where it affects their personal well-being. It’s been said for years that “people don’t leave companies, they leave managers.”
The root cause and solution to building better places to work where everyone – employees and leaders alike – can get what they crave is dealing with the management engagement crisis. To do that, we must help managers and leaders become better, more effective and trusted leaders who can create the environment for a more engaged workforce.
Which leads me to Reward Gateway … an environment that shares in my desire to help managers and leaders be better leaders.
By now, you’ve probably heard about my new role as the President of Employee Engagement at RG. In joining with a company that shares my passion and drive for making the world a better place to work, I have never felt more energised about the opportunity to have a real, meaningful impact on people’s lives.
But what brings us together by far is the challenge of solving our employee engagement crisis.
Too many leaders and companies suffer from a lack of workforce engagement. Billions of dollars are being spent on HR technology and in most cases … it’s not working. All you need to do is research the latest employee engagement findings in your country to realise that, for the most part, engagement levels have not improved much in the past decade.
The reality is, the employee engagement industry keeps getting bigger and bigger but it’s not necessarily getting better, which is evident by the plethora of engagement solution providers and technologies they bring to market – and the little impact many of them seem to have on increasing employee engagement levels.
But that’s what is so exciting about joining forces with Reward Gateway and aligning our teams to Make the World a Better Place to Work — we’re learning from our clients every day, the challenges that they have and how we can solve them. And we’re proud to bring those findings and live our values to deliver the best solution, to as many people as we can. And to me, that's just the cherry on top of my journey with employee engagement.