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Four motivators to boost employee engagement

Help them add value and feel valued


I worked for financial services for a long time and I always enjoyed my roles, but the area I worked in and the leadership I had within the banks really made a difference to my motivation levels.


In Mergers and Acquisitions, I found myself discouraged by the incessant selling of Canada’s natural resources to US conglomerates. The role was not challenging and I couldn’t develop. The boss was a bit egotistic and condescending, to say the least, and I found myself demotivated through time.


On the other hand, running projects on the Customer Experience team I found myself especially motivated to ensure we treated people with respect and kindness. The boss was great at communication and delegation and so was able to motivate me to develop and learn and achieve great things.


The fact is that (especially in financial services) “employee engagement” is a term that is bandied about incessantly and no one really knows what it means in concrete terms and very few know how to achieve it. Employee engagement is powerful, it can be the crux of every issue within an organization and every solution to achieve key performance metrics.


The four core motivators

Incentivizing people with money will only get us so far. Pay a competitive wage and then intrinsic motivators inevitably take over. The four high-level intrinsic motivators to boost employee engagement are:


  1. Employees want to feel they are part of a larger purpose

  2. Employees want to feel they are valued in their organizations

  3. Employees want to feel they are adding value within their organizations

  4. Employees want to feel they are adding value beyond their organizations


There is no reason that we cannot meet these intrinsic motivators even with social distancing, using the right communication, trust, and transparency. I believe we are at a crucial time for rebirth and for finding purpose within our organizations, of finding new innovative ways to add value and to change the world. Why not?


Leadership to believe in

Inspire through action. Say it, live it, and walk the talk. I had the privilege of working under a CEO who believed in what he espoused, that our customers were the core of everything we did, and while a lot of companies say things like that, we rarely see proof of it. Every level of management, every single employee was told repeatedly to view every activity through the lens of the customer, i.e. does it serve the customer? Everything we did, every change we made was with the customer focus in mind.


Employees felt they are part of a larger purpose.


In fact, he viewed his employees as his own customers and he made a point to learn every name before visiting them in the branches. He acknowledged their contribution to the bottom line, to the organization, and he always gave his management team autonomy with this one directive in mind.


Employees felt valued within the organisation


  • Have you shown your employees your trust while they are working from home?

  • Have you acknowledged their efforts and hard work in the face of this tough year?

Value to add

Ideas and innovations that kept customer focus in mind were welcomed, employees were allowed to challenge new initiatives or pivot them to ensure the customer perspective was considered. Everyone felt they were moving in the same direction, and this consistent lens allowed us to progress faster and make an impact every single day. Employees shared knowledge, ideas, and collaborated to achieve this one goal. The customer was king and we were just the loyal subjects!


Employees felt they were adding value within the organisation


Of course, customers are also people, and if they leave the branches having had a great experience and feel valued themselves, then employees are making an impact outside the walls of the organization. The goal every day was to “exceed expectations” and impact lives. A happy smiling customer is less likely to create turmoil outside the branch, these kinds of experiences have a ripple effect.


Employees felt they were adding value beyond the organisation


  • Are you enabling problem-solving and responsibility within your teams?

  • Are you giving them the freedom to meet the new client needs post-pandemic?

. . .


Does this seem too simple? Maybe because it is? It seems to me to come down to the right role, the right department, but primarily it comes down to the right leader. By creating a cohesive vision, adhering to it ourselves, allowing employees to deliver on that vision and create impact, can be the best way to engage employees.


This has the power to filter through to every level of management and every employee. Having said that if you are not incentivizing the right behaviors, i.e. if your KPI’s reward short-term gain, rather than long-term sustainable growth (yes financial crisis — I’m talking about you!) then no amount of vision or intrinsic motivation will help.


Conversely, the great leaders are incentivizing the right behaviors and therefore are leaders that employees can believe in. Help your employees feel valued and to add value and you win!

. . .


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