Rules of engagement

10 Oct

Are we engaged yet?

What is employee engagement? You have probably been assigned the task (especially during these trying times of slashed budgets) to increase your team’s engagement. But without spending anything. It has been a well known fact for many years that salary isn’t everything. These days, some may argue, “A” salary is everything; in so much as you have a job and are being paid to do it. So it’s back to good old Muslow and his pyramid. Just when these guys were going out of fashion, the markets get thrown twenty years back and the golden oldies are making a comeback. Gone are the cash rich and time poor customers. Gone are the affluent customers, hell, where did all the customers go? So now, we are left with highly sophisticated buyers with even more time to research purchase options (because of the unemployment) and less disposable income (because of the unemployment). It’s a marketer’s nightmare.  Add lot’s of amateur entrepreneurs buying market share and you get the picture. Still, you need to engage your employees. In a cost effective manner. What the hell is the boss thinking? Actually he is thinking along the right line if you think about it and assuming that he or she has. Many companies are looking at zero voluntary turnover. This is not a sign of a healthy market. Quite the opposite. Come on, guys! Somebody has to be ticked off with The Man. But if you walk these days, it’s straight to the unemployment line. And the line is getting longer. So where does engagement come in to the picture. Let’s imagine we are back in the good old days. What is employee engagement? Actually it’s the same as it is today. But back in the GODs, the boss probably said something like, “throw them a party”, or “throw them some money”. Now, we are actually getting it right. A disgruntled employee with a pay rise, in three months time will simply be a disgruntled employee in a better suit.  So what is engagement? If you ask me, it is what makes somebody prefer to work for you rather than for somebody else with the same salary. Think of your employees as your customers: we are talking value for money. That is, in fact, the secret to selling and it is no different if you are selling employment. So, back to Muslow: People need esteem. They desire respect and acceptance from others. Couple this with the fact that they don’t want to lose their job plus the fact that happy employees mean happy customers and it shouldn’t be too hard to connect the dots. Show respect for your team’s work. Show understanding to their needs. Reward them with recognition. People know it’s difficult to give fat pay raises these days. Get them to want to come to work because they feel valued. Make them part of the system. Then they will look to make things better. They will feel included instead of excluded. They will accept brutal facts easier. If you can achieve this, even if you are no longer dishing out the fat bonuses, you will see a continuous improvement in the level of your customer service. Engaged people care about their work and this becomes apparent to the customer. They become recipients of genuine customer care rather than customer service policy.

Keep people in the loop. Be honest about the company finances. Make it clear that as long as you have paying customers you will be able to be a paying employer. You will be surprised at the impact this will have on the sales effort and the tendency to give big discounts at the drop of a hat.

Treat your people as that: your people. It makes all the difference.

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Posted by on 10/10/2012 in Managing people


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