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Employee Engagement and Motivation: How to Motivate and Engage your Employees

By Ted Skinner

Employee Engagement and Motivation: How to Motivate and Engage your Employees

In working with middle market CEOs and their employees and they often wonder about their employee engagement and motivationemployee productivity and professional development.  I often find that they are overlooking one of the biggest components of productivity, are your employees engaged or are they motivated?  The team members may be motivated by a bonus and they will be productive, but if a team member is also engaged with their work - and its purpose - they are almost a third more productive.  Let's talk about employee motivation and engagement, as they aren't the same thing.

As an employer, you want your workforce to be both engaged and motivated. With employee engagement at around  15% worldwide and 34% in the United States according to Gallup, it is important to know the difference between employee engagement and motivation.  Engaged employees will decrease your employee turnover rate and you'll have much happier and longer tenured employees!  This reduces training and recruiting costs to help the bottom line over the long term

Engagement is an active agreement to do something for someone. Motivation is the will to do something. Both are critical to creating high performance teams, but employee motivation and engagement are two different things and both are critical in building a great team.  Teams that are highly engaged are actively looking for ways to increase their productivity and help the team hit it goals.  What are the drivers of engagement at your workplace?  Some of the most common ones are purpose, role clarity, meaning, shared values, trust, fairness and relationship with your manager.

How do you know if you have a highly motivated, engaged workforce?  We all know that on some days it is hard to find motivation at work and your level of engagement can vary from day to day, but in general you'll notice the difference between engaged employees and motivated workers.  Check out the examples below to see the difference between intrinsic motivation at work and employee engagement. You'll find that there is a strong relationship between motivation and employee engagement.  Individual employees want to go to a workplace where they are engaged!  Nobody wants to stay at a job, or go to a new one, where nobody is engaged in their work.

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Employee Motivation and Engagement Examples:

1. Employees have an emotional commitment to their work. (Engagement)

2. Employees feel like their work is meaningful. (Motivation) 

3. Employees continually learn and seek knowledge. (Engagement)

4. Employees take the initiative on tasks and projects. (Motivation)

5. Employees are persistent in their personal and company goals. (Engagement)

6. Employees are working towards a bonus. (Motivation)

7. Team is working towards a common goal. (Engagement)

If you're a visual person, here's an infographic illustrating the differences between engagement and motivation:

employee engagement vs employee motivation infographic


Here are a few quick tips to keep your employees both engaged and motivated: 

1. Make sure you have complete clarity with your team so they know what goals they are working towards.

2. Celebrate improvements and accomplishments. Make sure your team knows they are appreciated!

3. Set realistic goals using Red-Yellow-Green success criteria.

4. Encourage your team to continuously learn and improve their skills.

5. Engage your team in annual planning and quarterly planning sessions. Your team will be more motivated when they helped create the plan they are now executing.

6. Communicate, communicate, communicate! During your weekly staff meeting, encourage constructive conversation. Encourage feedback from all employees.

7. Different personalities work better in different environments. Consider different personality styles and preferences as you engage and motivate team members.

8. Work on the employee experience.  Think of everything from parking to the coffee you serve in your break room.  Does it welcome the employee?

9. Measure employee satisfaction at least twice a year.  Engagement surveys give you a pulse of your engagement culture at any moment of time.  Make sure that you meet with your human resource team, team managers and executive team to properly define employee engagement.

10. Create a culture from the CEO on down for a leadership accountability culture.  It starts at the top and you need to development of your leaders with time and money for training.

11. Change the mindset of you leadership team from "boss" to "coach".  You should be providing constant feedback to your employees.  Team member must also have role and goal clarity with their job scorecards

To find out more about employee engagement, check out our Employee Engagement Resource Center or download our return on payroll of engaged employees white paper, which is chock-full of great research and success stories! Good luck motivating and engaging your team!

-Ted Skinner

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