Employer Branding

Keeping Up with the Changing Engagement Needs of Employees

National Employee Motivation Day is taking place this month (Thursday 25 February), so how can employers get an accurate idea of how motivated their employees are, and also gauge if existing engagement practices are still meeting the needs of a changing workforce?

Running for the second year, the creation of a National Employee Motivation Day, run by Argos for Business, was prompted by a 2015 survey which showed that over half of the UK’s employees regularly felt demotivated at work. The aim of the day is to help businesses to understand the power of incentivising those who matter most, the staff.

At Pure we champion employee engagement because we want to help businesses create and evolve workplace cultures which attract and retain the best people. We’ve just held our latest employee engagement seminar, which included over 100 local business leaders, and one of the key themes to come out of the event was the importance of understanding the changing needs of employees and establishing what really motivates people as individuals.

This is because we are moving into an era where it is increasingly common to find four different generations of people working alongside each other. By 2025, the latest generation, known as ‘Millennials’ will make up 75 per cent of the UK’s workforce. However, numerous HR surveys have shown that traditional employee engagement methods are not always as effective when it comes to motivating this particular generation.

How can employers keep up with changing trends, and be ready to evolve their workplace culture if needed?

Annual staff survey

There is still very much a place for the annual staff survey in helping to understand employee motivation levels and to identify any areas for improvement. This message was reinforced at our employee engagement event, when guest speaker Sharron Pommells, head of operations at Virgin Management, described the results of the Virgin staff surveys as being ‘as important as balance sheets’ when it comes to gathering information on employee engagement.

To ensure good participation levels, and gain honest, valuable feedback it’s important to ensure that employees don’t find the survey too predictable or irrelevant to them. Employers should also make sure that the questions are specifically tailored to capture exactly what they want to establish, in line with the organisation’s business objectives.

There is external support available to help businesses if needed. For example through our Best Employers Eastern Region initiative we offer local organisations a completely free employee survey which provides feedback on the company’s culture and values, the impact this has on engagement levels, and a tailored action plan for development.

‘Pulse’ surveys

The annual staff survey provides an excellent overview, but we are now seeing a growing trend for using short, ‘pulse’ surveys throughout the year. At a time when the needs of a workforce are changing quickly, a year is a long time to wait for the next staff survey results to roll round. It can put employers on the back foot when it comes to spotting any changing trends which could impact on productivity.

Pulse surveys are short and very specific, and provide a quick and effective way for employers to capture immediate feedback on particular issues. They work really well as just one question with multiple choice or score ranking answers.

Discover individual motivations  

While there have been many studies into the different working styles and preferences of different generations, sometimes generational stereotypes can be just that, a stereotype. Don’t assume that people from certain generations will all want the same thing.

It’s important to understand what motivates people as individuals. Including some considered questions within an employee survey can be a good way to track and manage the varying needs within the organisation. Ask them what they want from their professional lives. What motivates them? How do they like to communicate? Discover where they are in their lives and what their needs are at the moment.

Act on results

However you decide to gather staff feedback, the most important thing is to make sure that you act upon the information you gather. The worst thing employers can do is to encourage staff to express their views and not follow them up. To build a company where people want to come to work every day, employees need to feel that they have not only have a say in the business, but also that their views are acted upon.

Share key findings and trends from staff surveys and provide regular updates on actions which are being taken, linking them back to the original feedback given. This transparency will help employees to feel valued and enable them to see the role they are playing in shaping and improving the organisation.

By Gill Buchanan

Gill is a founding Director of Pure Resourcing Solutions has worked in the recruitment field since 1988. Gill’s experience is broad based and includes eight years of specialist recruitment experience within an international specialist recruitment company including five years working within financial services recruitment in Sydney, Australia.