The A-Z of Employee Engagement

January 30, 2020 in Employee Engagement, Work Culture

No one said it better than The Jackson 5… “All you gotta do is repeat after me; A B C, easy as one, two, three”.

Employee Engagement may be the holy grail of operational success, but it doesn’t have to be overly complicated. 

Here we’ve compiled an ‘A to Z of EE’ to help your business recognise both the benefits and relative ease of boosting your Employee Engagement. With a few simple tasks, behaviours and programs – repeated with consistency and conviction – you can tap into the well of discretionary effort all engaged employees bring to the table.

A – Appreciation. It’s a basic human desire to feel appreciated. If we feel appreciated we’re more likely to repeat the behaviour. People more than ever are seeking purpose in their work. It’s not enough anymore to simply show up, do the work, get paid and go home. People want more from their employers, more from their work, more from their workplaces – and employers who want to attract the best people must sit up and take notice.

B – Big or small. Efforts don’t have to be huge gestures all the time. Sometimes a personal handwritten note that genuinely recognises and thanks someone for their work is as impactful as a more significant gesture.

C – Consistency. Building a workplace culture that looks after your people and delivers to the bottom line requires the same approach as any other business activity – consistency of execution. Know what you’re trying to achieve and consistently move the needle in that direction, one positive change, one effort and one day at a time.

D – Disengagement. It’s estimated that half of all Australian employees are looking for a new job at any given time. So if they’re always looking for something else to do, how engaged can they possibly be with your business? This is the flip side of not investing in your people, and it’s costly – with replacing high-level positions estimated to cost upwards of 400 per cent of their annual salary (TLNT).

E – Experiences. Cash bonuses and branded stress balls don’t create a community or culture in the workplace. It is connection that creates engagement and engenders trust, with both customers and employees. And it is shared experiences that create moments of bonding, camaraderie and understanding between individuals and teams. When people are engaged and feel their contribution is appreciated, they do better work. Using experiences to reward, recognise and incentivise both employees and business partners is a proven way of tapping into that valuable discretionary effort that can make all the difference to the profitability of a business.

F – Fun. Just because it’s work doesn’t mean it has to be serious all the time. Having fun improves cooperation and communication, it breeds creativity, and happy employees are healthier and more productive. In fact, A 2015 study by the University of Warwick found that happier employees are more productive by up to 20%.

“When you love what you do every day – you never have to work another day in your life.”


G – Generosity. Creating a culture of generosity is proven to increase health and happiness while reducing stress, improving relationships and even helping us live longer. And since we spend so much of our lives at work, it makes sense that those hours work in our favour.

H – Human. Don’t forget that behind your engagement strategies are real people. It’s easy to get caught up in budgets, results and stats – but what we’re all talking about, is people. 

I – Incentives. This video, “The surprising truth about what motivates us” by Daniel Pink, gives fascinating insights into the use of incentives to drive behaviour. It’s 10- minutes long but well worth the watch: 

J – Jump in. Start today. What’s stopping you from creating a workplace that inspires your people to do their best work?

K – Know your people. For Employee Engagement programs to be effective, you must know your people. Does Jane from finance like personal or public acknowledgement? Is she a fan of Adrenaline-based activities, or more inclined for a day of pampering at the local spa? Does she like sweet or savoury snacks? Make sure you celebrate them in a way that shows you know and understand them – and that doesn’t make them feel uncomfortable. This will build a sense of trust, comfort and the idea that “they really get me”.

L – Loyalty. McCrindle places the national average tenure in a job at 3.3 years (3 years and 4 months), based on voluntary turnover of around 15 per cent per annum. So while loyalty can seem a rare quality in these days of constant job changes, that only makes it more important to acknowledge those who have stood by you consistently. Acknowledging contribution, length of service and performance are the hallmarks of a great employer – an employer worthy of loyalty. 

Respect is earned, Honesty is appreciated. Trust is gained. Loyalty is returned.

Oscar Auliq-Ice

M – Meaningful. When deciding where to work, 90% of Millennials look for employers who offer ‘meaningful personal experiences’ in the workplace and 87% want ‘personal recognition’ (CONE Communications).​ These are no longer nice things to have, but absolute core requirements for the workplace.

N – Nurture. Looking after your people looks after your business. Care for them in the same way you care for your customers, and the results will speak for themselves.

O – Options. According to Ashley Goldsmith, Chief People Officer at Workday, “[Employees] want optionality… People are happier and more productive, regardless of age, when they are provided with more engaging work experiences”.

P – Personalised. As humans we want to feel known and understood; rewarded and recognised for our efforts. If this is done in a personalised way – with a reward that speaks to our own individual preferences, then it’s even more powerful. When more than two-thirds of employees say recognition from a manager is better at driving performance than money (EY), it becomes obvious that business is about people. And the brands that put their people first will see the profits follow.

Q – Quick. Engagement programs need to be fast and simple to be effective. The ability to give and receive recognition in the moment is powerful.

R – Rewards and Recognition. A culture built on the foundation of rewards and recognition is proven to build engagement, drive retention and attract top talent, while simultaneously reducing attrition and turn-over. Meanwhile, disengaged employees estimated to cost the Australian economy $305 billion each year due to lost productivity – an average of $26,300 per worker (EY).

S – Stats. There is significant commercial return to be won for organisations that focus on employee experience – a mere five per cent increase in Employee Engagement is linked to a three per cent increase in revenue growth the subsequent year (Aon). The numbers don’t lie.

T – Target-based. Linking your engagement efforts to business-critical targets and numbers means you can prove the impact of these activities in very real, commercial terms.

U – Unique. Make sure any efforts to recognise your people are in some way unique. When was the last time you heard someone raving about the amazing new toaster they bought? Or the company branded ballpoint pen they received last Christmas? It just doesn’t happen. But that time they conquered their fear of heights on a skydive. Or learnt to surf. Or finally went swimming with whale sharks… Now that’s a unique story!

V – Values. Any good Employee Engagement program will be linked to the values of the business. In fact, many programs are designed to specifically reward and recognise employees on the basis of living and breathing the company values in their day-to-day roles. So if you don’t have company values – or worse, you have them but your people don’t know what they are – that’s the place to start.

W – Wish lists. Back in 2004, renowned best employer, RedBalloon, launched an Employee Engagement project called “The Dreamcatcher”. At the beginning of the year every employee would write down 10 things they wanted to experience or achieve that year. When it came time to recognise people for great work, personal milestones or to just say ‘thanks’, the business was able to do so in an incredibly personalised, and powerful, way. Something so simple yet so effective in showing their people they knew who they were and what made them ‘tick’.

X – X-ray. Get to the bones of what makes your people tick and how to make their day-to-day life at work something fulfilling, meaningful and successful.

Y – Yes! Just say “Yes” to starting a simple program of engagement today. It doesn’t have to be hard or expensive, but you will soon see the outcomes paying dividends for your people and, in turn, your bottom line.

Z – Zest. Engaged employees have an incredible impact on the morale of those around them – they bring a positive, can-do attitude into the building; which is something worth bottling. 

Disengagement is costing your business thousands every year. So what can you do about it?

January 14, 2020 in Employee Engagement, Employee Motivation, Employee Recognition, Work Culture

This is a public service announcement: Disengaged employees are estimated to cost the Australian economy $305 billion each year due to lost productivity – an average of $26,300 for every worker (ref: EY).

It’s estimated that half of all Australian employees are looking for a new job at any given time. So if they’re always looking for something else to do, how engaged can they possibly be with your business? 

So why do employees become disengaged, and what can we do as businesses to stop this from happening before it’s too late?

Top 5 reasons employees become disengaged

1. Poor leadership

It’s an oft-quoted line that people do not quit their jobs they quit their managers. Poor managers and lacklustre leadership will undermine company culture at every turn if not addressed. But there is a difference between management and leadership – listen to Big Red Group co-founder Naomi Simson explain the distinction in this webinar.

2. Lack of learning opportunities

As humans, we’re programmed to continually adapt and improve. If your people are not given the opportunity to grow and develop new skills they will quickly become bored – and boredom is a key contributor to disengagement. Keep them challenged with interesting work, new initiatives, opportunities to innovate and a culture built on testing and learning. Give them a safe space to try and fail and you will soon inspire a culture of growth.

3. Lack of recognition

A culture built on the foundation of rewards and recognition is proven to build engagement, drive retention and attract top talent, while simultaneously reducing disengagement, attrition and turn-over. But where recognition is lacking, so too is discretionary effort. If not given the appropriate thanks (and we’re talking more than just paying them fairly), people will do the minimum and make no attempt to give you any of their valuable discretionary effort. If you want to unlock the productive power of an engaged workplace, rewards and recognition are a powerful means to do so.

4. Poor systems, tools & resources

Not giving your people the right tools to do the job creates a culture of frustration. Similarly, too much process, too few systems or unnecessary hurdles to getting their job done is a recipe for disengagement disaster. If you expect your people to do their best work, you need to provide them with the means to do so.

“A bad system will beat a good person every time”

W. Edwards Deming

5. Lack of communication & collaboration

Teamwork makes the dream work.

Do all of the people in your business know what they’re there to do each day? Do they know what their contribution means to the business and how their piece of the puzzle is contributing to the bigger picture? Without sufficient or appropriate communication from leadership to the rest of the business (and back up again), it’s impossible to collaborate effectively. But if you can get your people singing from the same song sheet with streamlined communication and processes surrounding the sharing of information, updates and change, you’ll have a far better chance of establishing and fostering a collaborative environment. 

Top 5 ways to prevent disengagement

1. Spot it early

There are many early indicators of employee disengagement, and if you can spot them early and have the conversation, you can save your business and your employees a lot of drama. Keep an eye out for things like increased absenteeism, reduced productivity and a general air of distraction – these are key indicators that an employee is on the path to disengagement. If you can spot it early you can do something about it.

2. Listen

Ask your people for ideas, for feedback, for input into the strategy and plan for the business. If they feel invested and that what they’re doing is contributing to the overall aims of the business, they’re far less likely to become distracted by their Facebook feed between nine and five.

3. Improve leadership (& management)

Be it courses in leadership, ensuring you’re hiring people who align to your values – within the executive team and wider business – or enabling your middle-managers to take more of a leadership role and develop their skills. Get the leadership right and everything else will follow.

4. Reward & recognise the right behaviours

What gets recognised gets repeated. In fact, 69 per cent of employees would work harder if they felt their efforts were better appreciated (Socialcast). Be it a formal reward and recognition program through the likes of REDii, or more informal moments of ‘thanks’, it all goes a long way to showing your people you appreciate them.

“Recognition is the number one most impactful driver of engagement”

Kevin Sheridan 

5. Give feedback & development opportunities

Not everyone wants to be publicly celebrated, but everyone wants to hear about it when they’ve done a good job. Similarly, when there is room for improvement, have the conversation – it’s as much about the success of the business as it is about the success of the individual who can use constructive feedback to improve their work and career prospects.

Replacing high-level positions is estimated to cost upwards of 400 per cent of their annual salary (ref: TLNT). And the picture isn’t a whole lot better for lower-level roles either. Employee engagement is fundamental to business success. At the end of the day, business is all about people – it’s people who make your business tick, and it’s people you’re selling to. Get the people puzzle right and the rest will flow.

Still not sure how? Let us help with a free demo of our reward and recognition programs.

Successful businesses all focus on this one thing…

December 30, 2019 in Employee Engagement, Employee Retention

“You can’t win in the marketplace unless you win first in the workplace. If you don’t have a winning culture inside, it’s hard to compete in the very tough world outside”

Douglas Conant

In challenging times, businesses cannot afford the luxury of unproductive employees. As companies continually look to reduce costs as they negotiate unknown waters, cutting from the wrong places can be short-sighted and damaging.

To be competitive is to have a focused team of engaged employees, who are there for the long haul. In troubling times it is those businesses that focus on their people that will be able to withstand challenges and maximise the opportunities that will arise.

Successful businesses will always continue to focus on their people.

Investing in your people is a great way to protect your business

That’s why employee engagement has long been heralded as the holy grail of organisational success. It’s a person’s emotional and intellectual commitment to an organisation. And while it’s hard to put a price tag on, many studies have shown the impact of high employee engagement, as well as the flipside: The cost of not investing in a positive workplace environment.

Jacob Morgan, best-selling author, futurist and keynote speaker on the future of work, employee experience and leadership, conducted interviews with 150 psychologists, economists, and business leaders around the world to identify the three environments that matter most to employees: cultural, technological and physical. He then analysed more than 250 organisations based on these insights – many from the Fortune 100 and those ranked as ‘best places to work’. What he discovered was telling.

  • Over half the companies were rated poorly by their employees in at least one of the three areas.
  • 20% were scored very low across the board
  • 23% were ‘making strides’ in all three areas
  • Only 6% were investing heavily in all three
  • Of those 6% – the ‘experiential organisations’ who were investing in an ongoing, considered and deliberate engagement strategy – they saw directly-related performance gains.

When Morgan interviewed leaders at the top organisations (the likes of Adobe, Microsoft, Facebook, Accenture), they anecdotally reported their investments in the three ‘employee experience environments’ (cultural, technological and physical) had led “not only to happier employees but also to larger talent pipelines and greater profitability and productivity”. 

If you don’t capture the hearts and minds of your people – no amount of money will keep them long term – and when there is no cash to splash around and bonuses are non-existent then smart companies are looking for alternatives. Shared experiences build relationships – they inspire conversation, create memories and strengthen emotional bonds between people and the businesses they work for”

Naomi Simson