In a study conducted by Dale Carnegie on over 1,500 employees, only 29% of the workforce is engaged. More startling is that 45% reported they are not engaged and 26% are actively disengaged. Do the math: 71% of people report they are not engaged in their work.
Admittedly, there are several factors that shape employee engagement. Broadly speaking, these can be broken down into three buckets:
- Individual motivation. Each of us is motivated by the need to achieve. Some people are intrinsically motivated and have high standards for doing outstanding work. If they are not challenged or see that substandard performance is tolerated, they are likely to disengage. Others are more externally motivated, meaning that they look for the environment to engage them by “telling” them what and how to do things.
- Organizational Culture. Culture is particularly important for creating employee engagement. Specifically, an engaging culture is one that sets standards, clarifies roles and responsibilities, and recognizes outstanding performance.
- Leadership. Leaders play a major role in engaging employees, particularly because they have the ability to impact both individual motivation and organizational culture. Outstanding leaders understand what is important to their employees, what motivates them. They set expectations and create a culture where people are encouraged “to be all they can be,” to use the Army slogan.
While leader encouragement comes in many forms – personal observation, giving feedback, and frequent coaching tips, there is one thing that stands out about what these leaders do routinely – provide continuous recognition for outstanding performance.
The Power of Thank You
Two words—thank you—have an immediate impact. It costs nothing to implement – no major corporate initiatives, no consultants and no workshops are required. The more personal the thank you is, the better. Thanking someone is a motivator. It not only recognizes the contribution of an individual or team, it sends the message that someone notices and someone cares.
Saying thanks is not a critical behavior reserved only for leaders. Thanking peers, colleagues, or bosses has an impact on the culture and the level of engagement. Expecting people to do their job or to be grateful for their paycheck without personal recognition is a missed opportunity. Want to raise the level of engagement in your organization immediately? Make recognition and thanks visible and meaningful. See what happens.
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