Posts for Category: Employee Engagement

Employee Engagement: 5 Simple Principles for Productive and Happy Employees

Posted on: February 7th, 2017

If we had to condense our employee engagement philosophy into a few simple principles, these are the ones we would highlight. Think of them as The Five Commandments for engaged, productive and happy employees. Investing in learning how to create an engaged and happy workforce is critical to the success of every business. A recent study at Warwick University showed that employee happiness leads to a 12% growth in productivity. When your employees are happy in their job the companies’ retention rate is higher, attendance is higher, tardiness is reduced, individuals become more focused on their work, their success and the success of the company they work for.


1. Treat employees as individuals.

Employees are people with lives. They have kids, a spouse or significant other, friends, hobbies and a life outside of work. They have needs, desires, goals and ideas. The more you know the people who work for you, the better you will understand that individual’s behaviors, driving forces, work patterns, job preferences and learning needs. Build relationships by inquiring about their families, get to know their favorite activities, discuss a current event, music, or maybe where they have traveled. This insight is a powerful in helping communication as well as a motivation tool and not just for you, but for the employee as well. When an employee notices your genuine interest in them as a person and not just an employee number they gain a sense of belonging. We feel happy when we are somewhere we feel we belong and we are more productive and engaged.


2. Treat employees as adults.

We all want control over our lives and our work. Control means making decisions. Acknowledge this in your employees and use this powerful motivator to empower your staff. When an associate asks a question, don’t jump to answer. Don’t assume that simply because an employee asks a question they don’t have an answer. In many cases, this is a learned behavior. Employees are conditioned to ask. Turn your answer into a question. “What’s your opinion?” “How do you think this should be done?” By turning problem-solving back to the employee, you send a message that says, “You can do this”. The manager/employee dynamic can take on many different forms, teacher and student, parent and child but never forget first and foremost the relationship of adult and adult. Giving your associates the respect they deserve is the first step in receiving respect in return.


3. Spur employee engagement through involvement.

Encourage employees to ask, “why”. Questioning means involvement. When employees cease to ask questions, they cease to care. Employee engagement comes from being involved. Effective managers know when their people are asking questions, they are thinking about their work and the company. Effective managers also encourage healthy criticism and disagreement. They actively listen, and then ask for recommendations or solutions. Ownership begins with inquiries. Seek their advice on particular challenges. Ask for ideas about an upcoming event. Involve them by asking them to interview job candidates.


4. Make employees partners.

People won’t give their best and experience full employee engagement if they don’t understand the how and the why of their efforts. Of the companies we surveyed, 86% of managers and associates did not know their company’s general financial performance. Up to 65% of associates thought that the difference between an item’s purchase price (wholesale) and retail price was net profit for the company. Many training programs do not address the financial basics of business. Worse, many companies do not discuss profits and losses with sales and service associates, except as it relates to individual productivity. When employees are treated as partners in business, a sense of ownership, involvement and responsibility sets in. Pride in contribution fills a powerful personal need.

As with any good business relationship, the partners share in the rewards of their contributions. When associates come through for you and the organization, the best reward is to acknowledge them. Show appreciation and empathy when it’s warranted. Inquire about their dreams and career goals and ask how you can help them achieve them. Recognize when extra effort is put forth, and offer appreciation, acknowledgment and in some cases a reward.

Building alliances and paying attention to top performers sends a clear message that you value and reward those who do a great job. This is critical to achieving excellent leadership and retaining top performers. Great employees who aren’t appreciated will find someone who does appreciate them if you do not. Many managers spend more time with poor performers because they demand more attention. Unfortunately, the message is interpreted incorrectly; do poorly, and I’ll spend lots of time with you to improve your performance.


5. Respect employees.

Respect is one of those basic requirements in management – without respect for your employees your chances or it being reciprocated for you and/ or the company is unlikely. It really does all boil down to treating others the way you would want to be treated. Uniqueness in people should be celebrated. Differences are encouraged. Opinions are considered. When you give respect, you get respect. I once asked a sales associate to define respect. Her answer was simple: “I know it when I feel it, and I know it when I don’t.”

Employee engagement isn’t easy, if it were we wouldn’t continue to have only 32% of the workforce engaged. Listen to your internal customers (your employees) as diligently as you listen to external customers. Listening is all-important. The automatic assumption is employee happiness is about their monetary satisfaction with 89% of managers believing employees leave for more money. This assumption is false, only 12% of employees leave for more money – the number one reason they leave is they are unhappy. When people voluntarily leave their job they don’t quit their jobs, they quit their bosses. In order for you to maintain employee engagement you need to develop an engagement strategy. Being engaged in your employees will breed an environment for engagement and happy, productive associates. No great idea ever enters the brain through the mouth!


Terri Kabachnick’s Latest Book

Own What You Do and Love It Too: For Anyone Who Works for Anyone
Available on Hardcover, Paperback and for Kindle.


Hiring the Engaged Employee

Posted on: June 6th, 2016

How do you hire the best talent?  How do you know they will be the right fit for the job and your organization?  At the Kabachnick Group, we have learned from experience that being aware of these components before making a hiring decision is very important to hiring an engaged employee.  Consider using assessment tools.

  • imagesIndividual Driving Forces are the prime forecasters of success employee engagement or failure (disengagement). Discover an individual’s motivators and beliefs through the use of our Driving Forces assessment.
  • Certain jobs require certain natural abilities. Define the job, define the ability, match the two, and you have a winning formula for engagement at all levels of an organization.
  • The DISC profiling system reveals four basic human behavior dimensions: Drive; Influence; Steadiness and Compliance.
  • When you define an individual’s beliefs and values, you can align the person with a job at which they are likely to excel – leading to engagement and passion in what they do.
  • Overlooking people who do poorly in traditional interviews may cause you to overlook their superior qualifications and skills. Uncover these hidden factors by using online assessments.
  • Employers usually look for themselves in the person they’re interviewing. They rely on their biases when making hiring decisions rather than rely on unbiased and validated assessments.
  • The four assessment profiles best suited to effective recruiting, hiring, retention and engagement are: the self-assessment; assessment of success requirements for the job; assessment of your organization and its culture; assessment of an applicant or employee’s competencies and natural abilities, beliefs and values.
  • When in doubt, choose will over skill. Many times experience alone causes a gap between what the employee knows and what he is willing to learn – leading to disengagement.
  • Benchmark the job by focusing on the job requirements and key accountabilities rather than the “type” of person you think you want.
  • “Supporters” are not disengaged. Although they often interview poorly when compared with “Relaters,” they can make good management material. Assessments are the tool you need to point out this difference.
  • Understand the emotional requirements of a new employee by discussing her strengths and limitations, needs, and reasons for working. During the interview see if her answers match up with her assessment results. If not you need to probe further.
  • Be observant. Watch for behavior changes during the first six months of employment. Job performance either grows or drops during this period. You can forecast disengagement by following this practice.
  • Provide informal feedback monthly by asking specific questions related to the employee’s perceptions of how he or she is doing. Go back to the assessments the employee completed and see if the behavior you are witnessing is congruent with the assessment results.
  • The disengaged employee “cycles” through four “seasons” – from the honeymoon period and full engagement to reactively disengaged and then actively disengaged.
  • Fire the actively disengaged worker – when the person has moved beyond “redemption.”
  • Disengaged workers cost US organizations more than $250 billion per year. Research shows that three of four workers are disengaged. The total cost and impact on profits have yet to be measured.
  • Disengaged workers are more than disillusioned; they are mentally divorced from their jobs.
  • Managers usually fail to recognize the symptoms of disengagement, or they avoid dealing with “people issues” entirely.
  • Management often promotes disengagement by rewarding poor-to-mediocre performers with attention and “incentives,” while heaping additional work and responsibilities on top performers.
  • The average manager waits nearly two years before separating the actively disengaged worker from the company – two years during which the worker poisons relations with co-workers, customers, and managers.
  • Firing can be a favor. But fire the person quickly and without recriminations.
  • The truly engaged worker is committed to her job and company, and is unavailable to other employers.
  • People are engaged when they understand and agree with what is expected of them.
  • A simple exercise to encourage engagement: Ask employees to write down what they believe their job requires and the behaviors they feel are necessary for their success. Follow-up with discussions to gain agreement and commitment resulting in an engaged worker at all levels of an organization.
  • Companies are only as good as their engaged people, because companies are their people.
  • Engaged people drive the success of companies. They are the source of all revenues, sales, customer satisfaction and (ultimately) profits.
  • Life and work cannot be separated into compartments. Managers must accept that the two intersect, and become more “professionally personal” if they want to destroy disengagement problems and improve productivity.
  • Given the huge cost (largely hidden) of employee disengagement, businesses cannot afford to continue with “business as usual.”
  • Employee engagement and loyalty cannot be bought, and cannot be imposed through superficial means such as pep rallies, slogans and smiley buttons.

Engagement formula: People = Productivity = Profits. Adapt and adopt behaviors in order to treat workers as individuals.



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