I was chatting with friends the other night and one of them mentioned that morale was poor at their workplace, so they were having a “wear your pyjamas to work” day.
Will having a pyjama party actually improve morale? No way.
In fact, my friend was dreading it, and thought it was somewhat impractical in a work environment where half of the employees worked in a warehouse setting.
Events like this only scratch the surface of employee engagement. Unless you get to the root cause, you won’t make a long-lasting improvement. In fact, you could make things worse. My guess is some people may have fun that day, others (like my friend) may hate it. Regardless, any positive impact this type of event will have will be temporary.
The trouble is, this is the direction many organizations turn when they want to increase employee engagement. In a recent study by Aberdeen Group (2004), Employee Events was the most commonly used strategy to improve hourly employee retention, with 68% of companies investing in them. The same study also found that this had the most uncertain return on investment.
The path to engagement is much more strategic, long-term, and challenging. You have to engage their Hearts and Minds.
Here are a few ways to start.
Engage their minds:
- Evaluate your compensation practices. Are people paid fairly and equitably, both internally and compared to market? Pay is not a motivator, but it can de-motivate people.
- Improve your internal communication. Do people have access to the information they need to complete their work?
- Ensure that everyone has all of the necessary tools to do their job. Fix technology, provide access to resources.
AND Engage their hearts:
- What is your organization’s vision, mission, etc. Do they resonate with employees? does everyone in the company know where your headed and what their role is in taking the organization there?
- Take a look at all leaders’ style. Make sure they’re aware of their strengths and opportunities. Have them share this, candidly, with their teams. An introspective look and a leader who is self-aware is much more able to flex their behaviour and engage people.
- Empower people. Hire people who are aligned to your vision, train them in your standards, and set them loose to do their jobs.