The Right Fit: Engaging & Motivating Employees for Growth

“This company seem to only hire people who have the personality to fit in with the organization. Basic talents are necessary for the position, but they really make sure the ‘person’ and not the skill level is the right fit.”

My friend was telling me this about her son who had been in and out of professional jobs for 15 years. Be it the economy, industry or relationship with a manager, he had been unable to find the right fit for a long time.

But this time it seemed right.

As a Human Resources Director for a Fortune 500 firm, my friend was watching her son’s new workplace with curiosity and a professional eye. Not only did her son seem extremely happy and motivated, so did all his co-workers.

The company was not only growing, it was thriving.

What were they doing differently than most of America?

Motivation or Engagement?

According to Gallup, only 30% of American workers are engaged with their work. Costing the nation upwards of $450 billion a year in lost productivity.

There are firms who have adopted the ‘new’ ideas of nap pods, free lunches, work from home and other modern day perks. They find these don’t elicit the anticipated increased engagement and productivity in their employees.

Daniel Pink, author of Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us, tell us most carrot and stick motivators don’t work in the long run. People get focused on the reward and lose interest in the activity. Instead, writes Pink, workers want autonomy, the chance to get better at what they do, and a purpose that connects to something larger.

Instead, writes Pink, workers want autonomy, the chance to get better at what they do, and a purpose that connects to something larger.

Keeping Employees Engaged

Pink believes employee engagement will be found where companies:

  • Pay people well. They will focus on the work, if not worried about the money.
  • Allow employees to see – and be part of – your purpose. Knowing and understanding the company’s greater mission allows employees to see beyond themselves. And work together for the greater means.
  • Allow employees to see – and be part of – progress. A basic human motivator is to want to do better and to see the improvement. Encourage, recognize and celebrate the milestones and progress made for the purpose, the firm and for individuals.
  • Give workers autonomy. Allow workers to do their job. Pink believes 85% of the workforce will thrive and do what is needed without micromanagement and rules. Guidelines can apply – but the organization should be fluid to allow for creativity and growth.

The Key to Engagement

After listening to her son tell her about his employer, my friend realized this firm hired – and retained – the people who believed in the greater purpose of the firm. The company ownership always revealed their purpose upon interviewing. If the individual could not buy into the firm’s purpose, then they were not hired.

In return, the company provided the employees with good pay, autonomy, and recognition. Except for the ability to work from home when necessary, (but not always), there were no special perks in their offices.

In some way, it was more like a partnership than an employer-employee relationship.

Not only a good fit for her son but the right formula for growth for the organization.

Do believe in Pink’s theories? Would they work in your firm? Let’s talk. Please comment below.

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