How To Motivate and Re-Engage Employees

April 3, 2019 | Articles

Clients often ask us how to re-engage employees.

Their staff aren’t motivated, absenteeism is up, turnover is becoming a problem, or its the perceived challenges of having a large millennial workforce.

Many think that the easiest solution is to throw more money at the problem…that increased compensation will motivate people and reduce turnover. Typically, however, more money is not the answer. Employees leave for a variety of reasons, but more often it is related to how they are treated at work. Is it a positive culture?Are there open lines of communication? Are employees listened to? Are they treated respectfully? Do they feel as though they contribute in a meaningful way? Do they feel valued?

When an employee leaves, some managers are surprised and say, “if they’d only come and talked to me, I could have done something.” That’s great in certain workplace cultures where that openness exists. In our experience, however, the majority of employees are very reluctant to go to their boss and say things aren’t working well. No matter what the issue, there is the concern that it looks as though they can’t handle the job and raising this issue with their boss, could trigger their termination. And, not all bosses are open and understanding if someone does come forward to talk about their job dissatisfaction or future.

So, what do you do? Ask them!

Ask your employees about the key issues and there are a couple of ways to do this. The first is to hold small group meetings to solicit feedback. Ideally, keep it to one or two questions otherwise, with no structure, it can turn into a big gripe session. Make sure everyone has an opportunity to speak as sometimes the “louder voices” end up “speaking” for everyone. Two things to consider with this process: not everyone is comfortable in speaking up in a group so you may lose some good feedback and not everyone is comfortable in speaking to management, especially if some of the problems stem from management. In this case,you may consider a qualified third party to conduct the group sessions. The second option is an anonymous feedback survey. These online surveys can often get a lot of good quantitative and qualitative information in a wide range of areas. Not sure what to ask? Feedback from exit interviews, might serve as a good basis of where to start. Also look at where the issues are with staff. Is turnover high with new employees or those who have been with you for a few years? Has there been a change in management or policy recently that may have affected staff morale? Have you been experiencing significant growth? All those areas will help to frame your questions.

There are some key points to remember when conducting an employee survey.

Anonymity is important
Unless you are a larger organization (e.g., 500+) where understanding your demographics is vital, consider how much demographic information you need. In small to medium-sized organizations, if employees feel they can be identified, they are less likely to be open about their comments.

Use a third party
Employees will be more comfortable knowing their answers are not going directly to management.

Don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions
even if that includes questions about management and senior leadership. But before you put in the effort to do a survey, make sure you’re open and comfortable with what you may hear…it may involve your development as well.

Set a baseline
If this is the first time you are doing a survey, use this time to set the baseline of what you want to know so you can measure it in future surveys.

Be careful what you’re asking for
Don’t ask questions about things that you have no intention of changing. For example, if you just changed your benefits recently and are not likely to make any new changes for the next year or so, don’t ask any benefit plan questions.

Do communicate in advance with your employees to get some excitement about the survey, let them know that their input is important. Help them to understand the process. Employees will have a greater sense of ownership and responsibility when they feel they are contributing to their workplace.

And, the two most important points:

Report back
Provide feedback to your employees on the survey results. It won’t be all of the survey data, but rather a summary of what they said.

Next Steps
Tell them how you’re going to move forward…and make some things happen with an appropriate plan. Follow through and follow up.

It can be extremely detrimental for morale if you don’t provide the employees with feedback on the results or implement any changes based on their suggestions.

Survey results should provide you with a game plan of priorities of how to re-engage staff. Doing a survey annually or bi-annually can help to measure how you’ve improved from your baseline. With the implementation of changes you will be on your way to fostering a more positive workplace environment, reducing turnover and improving employee engagement.

Contact us today for information on how we can help with your own workplace survey so you can re-engage employees.

Lynn Brown, CHRL, FCMC
Lynn is the Founder and Sr. Advisor of Brown Consulting Group, providing HR consulting, outsourcing and training.

Let’s start a conversation