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The Great Motivation: Are you doing these 6 things to engage your team in 2022?

August 8, 2022

By: Wendy Sheaffer

It’s the year of the “greats” … the great resignation, the great reset, the great reshuffle, the great reprioritization, the great share, the great mental breakdown. I may have made that last one up. Change is constant, and sometimes it happens faster than we anticipate. Now more than ever, it feels hard to keep up.

The good news: we have so much information readily available to stay up to date with the latest data, trends, and advice. The bad news: we have so much information available. Does anyone else experience content overload? Between Netflix, Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Hulu, Sling, and countless others, it’s impossible to watch everything that might catch our fancy. I can’t read everything I want, or I’d never get anything else done. And then there’s the Internet. It’s great to quickly watch a video showing me how to properly clean my coffee maker rather than frantically searching the house for the user’s manual that I surely threw away almost immediately.

Plus, there is so much expert advice at our fingertips, literally, though it’s frustrating when one expert says one thing while another says the opposite. Content overload.

There’s so much to process, especially at the workplace. Our workplaces have been shifting for years in a myriad of ways. For example, offices have been shifting from traditional cubical office environments to open concept environments, coworking spaces, and remote or even remote hybrid setups. It might have seemed gradual to some offices, especially if your office had already embraced remote work. But Covid accelerated everything. A 2022 survey by Statista showed that 7% of workers were remote for over 10 years, 14% were remote for under 10 years, 21% under 5 years, and a big leap to 56% under one year.

Overnight, offices that weren’t even considering remote work became remote. In the blink of an eye, businesses had to pivot. And those workplaces were unprepared for the change. The rapid workplace shift meant an immediate focus needed to be on the operational and technological logistics of moving to remote. But we also needed to shift the way we motivate, engage, and retain people. And it likely didn’t get much attention, at least not at first. Now that workplaces are settling into their new remote or hybrid environments, they are realizing they might not be doing the right things anymore.  But what are the right things?

When I think of the great reset and reprioritization, I think about what we need to do today to effectively engage and motivate employees across a variety of virtual and in-office workplaces. And the best place to start is determining what matters to employees in 2022, along with what old-school thinking is keeping us from meeting those needs.

What do employees want today?

1. To Be Asked

Before listing out what the experts are saying based on their surveys, I suggest conducting your own employee survey. Since every office is a little different, with different industries, and a different mix of generations, schedules, and work environments, it’s a good idea to make sure you know what is resonating with your team so you can come up with ways to meet those needs. That said, data does show the following as meaningful to today’s workforce.

2. Flexibility

Covid taught us a lot of things and one of them was to embrace life because a lot can go sideways in an instant. Employees want flexibility so they can more easily balance their home and work lives. Flexibility can mean different things based on your organization’s industry, structures, and work processes, so get creative. And don’t forget to ask what flexibility means to your team so you can start thinking of ways to achieve it without negatively impacting business. This can be one or two questions on your own survey.

3. Employee Recognition

We all want to feel valued for what we contribute. Recognition is one of the best ways to let people know that you see who they are and what they do for the team and for the company. No matter the environment, people want to hear from their direct supervisors and from their teammates.

Depending on your office structure, you might consider an employee recognition platform. We use our Microsoft Teams app with a program that we call Cheer from Peers. We have a Cheers from Peers team where people can send “ribbons” to teammates with a note on what earned the ribbon. Everyone sees the ribbon and note and can comment or send congratulations. We also count the number of Cheers from Peers and give a quarterly prize to the employee who gets the most which we announce at our virtual quarterly meeting. We also try to have one in-person meeting a year, something that blends business with fun.

4. The Right Tools

Make sure they have what they need at the beginning and throughout their tenure. There’s nothing worse than not having the equipment, applications, and resources you need to do your job. Have a checklist of equipment and access to learning resources to be sure you aren’t forgetting anything. You can use this for new and tenured employees. Check-in during performance reviews to see if they have what they need.

I struggled with some of my new hire training activities after we went remote. I used to do all the training face-to-face, and it involved quite a bit of drawing on a whiteboard. During covid, all training was virtual, so I tried using whiteboard applications, but since I didn’t have a touch screen computer, it was a mess trying to use the mouse. Everything looked like it was being drawn by a three-year-old. I didn’t know, until talking to IT, that there are inexpensive drawing tablets that I could easily connect to my laptop. For like $40, my life got way easier and less embarrassing.

5. A Meaningful Onboarding Process

It’s certainly important to make sure we tick off the checklist of logistical requirements like HR forms and technology needs (equipment, passwords, etc.), but onboarding is your chance to build rapport, start building trust, introduce the organization’s core values and really demonstrate your culture (which they should have gotten a glimpse of throughout the hiring process).  Onsite, this is a bit easier, but virtual requires more planning and effort because there isn’t anything to see, like walking down the halls and meeting up with coworkers in the kitchen or stopping at someone’s door for a chat. Assigning a mentor or even an informal culture buddy is a great way to establish connections.

6. Communication

Communication is a must. Poor communication and lack of communication tend to be the source of most major problems (personally and professionally). Don’t let online platforms take over for basic conversation. Build a process that effectively uses technology without completely removing personal connections. “Camera on” should be required in some meetings and encourage a little social time at the beginning of meetings to sustain rapport. If something is going to require back and forth emails or pinging, then encourage people to call one another. We use Teams for calling, both with and without the camera depending on the situation and person.

Understanding personality type can help build an effective roadmap for all of the tips above. For example, I have a few highly social teammates (tall column 3 on the Omnia Assessment). I know they like to call for even little things, camera engaged, as it helps feed their need for personal connection. Some other coworkers, the analytics (tall column 4s), prefer to ping or send an email with camera-off calls only when necessary. As a leader, when you know what motivates someone intrinsically, you can provide it without thinking.

Here are some bonus tips on personalities in your office.

Column 1 (assertive) – Like to take command and compete.

Column 2 (supportive) – Like to help and avoid conflict.

Column 3 (social) – Need personal connections.

Column 4 (analytical) – Need straightforward, specific communication.

Column 5 (fast-paced) – Motivated by variety and a sense of rapid progress.

Column 6 (methodical) - Motivated by predictability, prefer to finish one thing at a time.

Column 7 (independent) – Want to be involved in decisions and self-manage, don’t want to get bogged down by details.

Column 8 (structured) – Want clear guidelines or procedures, want to know the details.

Next, let’s make it the year of the great leader!

Wendy Sheaffer

Chief Product Officer at The Omnia Group, an employee assessment firm providing the power of behavioral insight to help organizations make successful hires and develop exceptional employees. Wendy joined Omnia as an analyst in 1998 and is a subject matter expert in using Omnia’s 8 columns as a tool to make more-informed hiring and development decisions and effectively engage staff. She works directly with clients and Omnia staff to provide a deeper understanding of how to use personality data to meet business goals. Wendy provides strategic direction on client requests, projects and product training sessions. For more information, email or call 800.525.7117.

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