By Sunny Klein Lurie
Many of the winners — both employers and employees — told their stories. Overall the message I heard about what really matters to employees was “feeling the love” to and from their company. Common sentiments in their stories related to feeling real support, encouragement, and pride from a caring, connected work community.
The 2015 winners represent a variety of industries, from a budget dumpster company and hospital to a construction firm and pet insurance business. According to the NorthCoast 99 survey, the No. 1 factor most employees are looking for is challenging, meaningful work; and next on the list, employees want compensation and work-life balance.
Great companies are continuously assessing and addressing employee needs to foster a culture of engagement and first-rate performance. Organizations strive to attract and retain actively engaged employees who are motivated to perform and committed to do their best. However, Gallup’s annual poll reveals there is much work to be done to improve engagement levels, indicating 70 percent of U.S. workers are not engaged.
How can organizations help infuse energy and meaning into their workforce to encourage greater connection, commitment, and engagement?
Having consulted with businesses for many years, I’ve often heard owners say, “I don’t have the time or budget for that touchy feely soft stuff.” This mindset is such a detriment to organizational growth and success. Research proves again and again the soft skills produce the hard results. A few soft skills that top organizations take pride in promoting are areas such as listening, appreciating, empowering, acknowledging, including, and connecting.
Daniel Pink can also provide insight on ways to develop engaged, motivated workers with his extensive human motivation research. In his book, “Drive,” Pink states the old way of reward and threat of punishment — extrinsic motivation — is not the answer. His scientifically proven strategies to raise motivation center on the three elements that drive intrinsic motivation:
So who is responsible for focusing on engagement, meaningful work, and quality performance? It is not one-sided — it’s a shared responsibility between employers and employees as a team. Employers provide a healthy environment that supports the needs of their workforce to help them succeed. And employees must take ownership to go after meaningful goals with hearty enthusiasm to create a fulfilling, satisfying work life. As I had learned at the NorthCoast 99 event, it is the shared response and strong connection between the organization and employees encouraging one another that builds great workplaces and inspires individuals to thrive.
Sunny Klein Lurie, PhD, is the CEO of Advanced Performance Inc. and its division, Fast Focus Careers, which helps companies and individuals engage and excel and is the provider of Empowering Growth, a workplace wellness program that measures and increases engagement.