Motivated employees are 30% more productive

Posted on: September 18, 2019 by Date Reitsema

Employee engagement and Employee Experience (EX) are not just a Human Resources (HR) matter. It should be an embedded, cultural existence across the entire business, directed and monitored by management and leadership, as well as every employee.

Karen Schulz-Kiske, Head of Operations in Europe at Resolution, and I, Date Reitsema, Global Director of Employee Experience from Atos co--presented at the Shared Services Outsourcing Week in Lisbon in May on motivating employees. The session was the best attended break-out session of the week; so, what where the three key takeaways we gave on improving employee engagement?

Top tip no. 1: address the motivation basics

Look at the basics of motivation in your organization: Are they all properly addressed? Using the model from “First, break all the rules” (Buckingham & Coffmann, 1999), employee motivation builds up from very basic needs or motivators. If those needs are not addressed, motivation does not go up despite putting into place measures on higher levels:

Basic motivators:

  • Do I know what is expected of me at work?
  • Do I have the tools and equipment I need to do a good job?

The “middle ground”:

  • Does my supervisor or someone at work care about me as a person?
  • In the last seven days have I been recognized or praised for a good piece of work?
  • Do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
  • At work, do my opinions count?

The “cherry on the cake”:

  • In the last six months have I had the opportunity to learn and grow?
  • In the last six months have I talked to someone about my progression?

Many organizations focus only on the “cherry on the cake”, by putting into place performance, evaluation and development tools. Both business leaders and the HR departments tend to forget that the motivation basics and the “middle ground” is what comes first for most employees – and where the direct team leads, together with the wider company culture, can make the difference.

Top tip no. 2: implement a peer-to-peer recognition program

A quick, sure way to improve employee engagement is a recognition program that is easy to implement and has a high impact. A peer-to-peer recognition program means that anyone can nominate anyone on specific achievements, going above and beyond expectations, helping a colleague, supporting a specific initiative and more.

Although there may be differences across regions in any organization, there could be general guidance about the awards given, such as bronze, silver or gold, and around award ceremonies.

Be careful not to run the risk of reducing the impact of the recognition system by awarding every person that has been nominated but focus more on the award ceremony where the employee recognized has the attention of senior management and the spotlight to make them feel valued and appreciated.

Top tip no. 3: embrace a ‘continuous improvement’ culture

Ultimately, if an organization’s culture is not to continuously improve and learn, the organization runs the risk of becoming irrelevant and less able to compete effectively. A great example of this is where Atos ran a global initiative called ‘Zero email’ that aimed to reduce the amount of emails an individual receives.

Although we did not reach a total, absolute ‘zero email’ state, we changed our behavior and our culture by using different tools depending on the need of the communication. For example, we use instant messenger (or face-to-face!) for quick fire communication and Circuit, our collaboration platform, for group discussions, instant messages, file sharing and workshops.

While the “zero email”, in this case, was run from the top, other organizations embrace a very strong bottom up approach, empowering employee continuous improvement groups to improve daily work processes and conditions. This only works, though, if it is incorporated throughout the business, rather than being an HR-only initiative, and if this becomes part of the company culture.

Whatever you do to improve employee engagement, make sure that the leadership team are very clearly demonstrating support for these initiatives. For example, don’t forget to highlight to the employee why they are being recognised for a reward (publicly acknowledge the achievement with a small ‘awards ceremony’ in the office) and don’t miss the opportunity to call-out when an employee is demonstrating the right behaviors.

Learn more about Atos’ own employee and customer engagement initiatives through our We are Atos programme.

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About Date Reitsema
Global Director – We are Atos, Employee Experience, Atos
Date Reitsema is an experienced manager with a strong background in the field of IT secondment. Over the years he has grown special interest and capabilities on collaboration and employee experience. Currently he is leading the Atos Employee Experience program "We Are Atos", which is the key Group transformation program for the continuous improvement of our way of working all together, covering Social Value, Diversity & Inclusion, Wellbeing, Life@work and ultimately employee satisfaction which leads also to better customer satisfaction.