carrots, hanging, vegetables

3 Reason’s Why Your Staff Engagement Efforts Are Falling Short (and three simple fixes…)

carrots, hanging, vegetables

Many moons ago, a guy by the name of Frederick Hertzberg, came up with a theory called the ‘Hygiene-Motivator Theory’ or the ‘Two-factor Theory of Job Satisfaction’. According to his theory, people are influenced by two sets of factors at work.

Hygiene Factors

  • Having accessible, understandable company policy and procedure
  • Having appropriate technical supervision and support throughout their workday. i.e. having someone to go to when they need help
  • Having appropriate remuneration
  • Having a physically and mentally safe work environment to attend

Motivator Factors (these fall into two categories)

Extrinsic (these come from outside the person. Think of them as the ‘carrot’)

  • Getting a promotion
  • Getting a pay rise
  • Receiving a prize or reward like a gift voucher or leaving work early
  • Receiving recognition in the newsletter or having their name on the wall

Intrinsic (these come from inside the person. Think of them as internal ‘good vibes’)

  • Having a personal sense of achievement for completing a goal or knowing they have helped someone
  • Having the responsibility and the autonomy to complete a job
  • Having pride and enjoyment in the work itself
  • Achieving personal and professional growth
  • Having a sense of purpose about the work they do

So how does this relate to your lacklustre attempts to improve staff engagement?

1.      You’re putting the cart before the horse

Many people want to incentivise staff engagement, i.e. use motivating factors, without ensuring hygiene factors exist first. Doing so diminishes your likelihood of success. Think of hygiene factors as the name suggests, for hygiene! Hygiene may not make you feel better but it will certainly make you feel worse in the absence of it. Relating this back to business, hygiene factors may not improve staff engagement however without them they can cause disengagement.

2.      You’re using your carrots wrong (aka you solely rely on extrinsic motivators)

The problem with extrinsic motivators is that though they work for a period of time, it has been proven that they have to get bigger to have the same motivating effect. For example, if the carrot was a $20 gift voucher, in time to have the same effect this may need to be increased to a $40 gift voucher. There are also two other common flaws seen in the use of extrinsic motivators. One is that you give incentives for tasks that people do anyway, research has found this to be demotivating. The other is not giving thought to what motivates your staff. For example, you offer carrots and the staff like chocolate. Staff aren’t going to be motivated if the incentive doesn’t appeal to them. As Manager’s, carrots may seem like a great way to rev up a team and they can in the short term, yet they may not provide the sustainable change in habit you’re hoping for.

3.      You’re not converting carrots to “good vibes” (aka you’re not converting extrinsic motivators to internal ones)

This is the tricky one. We already know that ‘carrots’ can work for a period of time however there comes a point where the carrots no longer work or they need to be bigger (or different) to achieve the same effect. To create sustainable change in habit, changing a person’s mindset to feel intrinsically motivated is the key. This can only be done through leadership. As the staff member succeeds at whatever the goal is, you need to take the time to give positive feedback, ensure they understand why they have done a good job, how it affects others and the business and most importantly, how it makes them feel. Staff also are more likely to be intrinsically motivated when they have ownership over how the goal is completed. Including staff in the action plan helps everyone feel part of the success. The more staff can identify their own successes giving them their own sense of personal accomplishment, the less reliant on extrinsic motivators they will be.

So in a nutshell, how can you begin implementing this today?

1.      Check your hygiene!

  • Do you have simple, accessible ‘how-to’ guides on how to complete a multitude of tasks? Is everyone on the same page with how to complete tasks?
  • Is everyone on the same page with company policy? For example: internet, mobile phones, dress code?
  • Do you provide appropriate training on jobs you require people to complete?
  • Do you provide a clean, safe, uncluttered work environment to work in? Is there a home for everything?
  • Have you checked that the staff completing the jobs get given all the relevant resources to complete the job properly?
  • Do the staff feel technically and emotionally supported in the decisions and tasks they undertake? In other words, do they know you’re completely behind them and have their best interests at heart?

2.      Reassess your carrot giving technique

  • Is the timing of your incentives relevant to the long-term success you’re wanting to achieve?
  • Is the continuity of your incentives still achieving the uplift or change you wish to see?
  • Do you only give out incentives for goals that aren’t already achieved?
  • Are the carrots you give out the ones your staff like?

3.      Reassess how you’re turning carrots into good vibes.

  • Are you following up carrots with good leadership?
  • Are you giving precise feedback on how their contribution to the goal is creating success? Do they understand the ‘why’?
  • Are you giving them personal ownership of how they achieved success?
  • Are your staff capable of identifying their own good work and articulating how it makes them feel?

If you can’t answer yes to all of these questions set about creating some solutions! If you’re not sure about the answers to these questions, better still, regardless, ask your staff how they would rate the store on these questions. Their inclusion and opinions are a hygiene and motivating factor in itself. You will make people feel their opinion is valued and gives them ownership of the solution.

Having one of these factors sorted without the other isn’t going to guarantee you success, it’s all about balance. Build the foundations with good hygiene then blend extrinsic and intrinsic motivators to create the vision you wish to see. Improved staff engagement is at your fingertips!

Any questions, thoughts or feedback I would love to hear it below, or contact me.

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