By Special to The Nation
APM Group’s Marketing Team
Published on July 18, 2011
Employee engagement is simple: Find out what your people care about most in their lives, then show you care about that too
Why do you get out of bed and go to work every day? Don't be alarmed if the answer is not on the tip of your tongue; it is pretty easy to forget why we do things when they become routine. Why people go to work - no matter how engaging, satisfying, career-developing, or well-paying that work can be - rarely has to do with the work itself.
The real motivation for going to work every day lies on a deeper, personal level, a level of meaning which organisations typically regard as outside their preserve.
Deeper levels of connection between the organisation and employee, however, inspire deeper levels of employee engagement.
Ask your employee: what is the most important thing in your life The answer to this question is the real reason people go to work, and the key to employee engagement.
Most human resource professionals know that there is more to employee engagement than offering competitive financial compensation.
In her article, "What People Want from Work: Motivation", Susan M Heathfield makes the point that although different people have different reasons for working, money is an important factor that motivates most people to work. That on some level or another we all work for money is a safe assumption.
It is peculiar though why so few HR experts probe deeper: ie why do people want to make money
This question may seem absurdly simple or complex depending on how in tune you are with the things that matter most in your life.
Parents, for example, can answer this question with ease: they want to make money so they can take care of their children.
For those without kids, your answers may be more vague, egocentric, and disparate [apparently there is nothing in the world as existentially grounding as parenthood]. That said, you being human, there are probably people in your life other than yourself about whom you care about very much. Whether they are the parents to whom you are eternally indebted - culturally, spiritually, financially - or your spouse for whose life you would lay down your own in an instant to save, the real reason you get out of bed in the morning and go to work is because you are driven by a characteristic that is essential to being human: a deep care for the ones you love.
If an organisation can demonstrate care for the people its employees care about most, then those employees will care deeply for that organisation.
A typical employee engagement survey, unfortunately, does not ask the kinds of questions that would arrive at identifying such deeper levels of employee motivation.
Usually, they seek to identify the factors involved in job satisfaction - those that get at the question of "why this job". But they do not get at the more critical question of "why work".
While the first question is certainly important for addressing "total reward", answering the second question is crucial for helping employees have fulfilling lives.
When employees see that their organisation is not only taking steps to take care for their work-lives but their lives outside of work, then employees can't help but engage with the organisation on a deeper level.
Consistently rated as one of the best companies to work for in the world, SAS has been praised for offering exceptional onsite healthcare, childcare, and an onsite summer camp for kids.
As reported by CNN Money, the website awarding SAS the No 1 company to work for in 2011, one manager said, "People stay at SAS in large part because they are happy, but to dig a little deeper, I would argue that people don't leave SAS because they feel regarded - seen, attended to and cared for. I have stayed for that reason, and love what I do for that reason." SAS cares about what many of its employees care about most - in this case, their kids - making SAS when of the best places to work. SAS offers benefits that demonstrate a deep level of care for the employees, inspiring in them their commensurately deep level of engagement."
How can you show you really care for your employees?
First, find out what your people care about most in their lives, then show you care about that, too.
If you invest in what really matters to your people, they can't help but invest in you. Many organisations offer competitive salaries, but few take pains to connect with the lives of their employees on a more deeply meaningful level.
If an organisation can offer its people something that acknowledges the ultimate driving reason of why they come to work day in and day out, something that shows they really care about what their employees care about most, letting them know the organisation cares deeply about them, then those people will in turn engage deeply with the organisation.
APMGroup is Thailand's leading organisational and people-development consultancy, established in 1992. Write to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org