Moving Employees from ‘Have To’ to ‘Want To’

It’s not uncommon for executives to believe that they have a positive work culture, yet in reality, most still have problems typical of a negative reinforcement management style. The misinformed executive typically arrives at this conclusion because company performance is good, they are profitable and employee complaints are few. It is unfortunate that negative reinforcement can produce those results, but it can.

The reason is that negative reinforcement produces improvement in behavior as people do more to avoid punishment. The punishment may be slight or significant. People will work hard to avoid termination, but they will also work hard to avoid the displeasure of the boss.

Take employee morale, for instance. Executives have been conditioned through history to think that competitive wages and good benefits produce high morale. If that were true, all financially successful organizations would have high morale. Of course they don’t. In fact, I’ve reported on this before: employee engagement numbers have changed little in the more than 20 years. A Towers Perrin Global Workforce study showed that only 22 percent of workers are engaged, while BlessingWhite’s survey found 31 percent.

Furthermore, by their own admission less than half of employees say that they are “fully engaged.” It is quite unusual to find a company where all employees enter the workplace rejoicing, “Thank goodness it’s Monday!”

Engagement is not determined by what you do; it is determined by what happens to you when you do it. Employee engagement is a leadership problem, period. You cannot improve engagement by having a one-day motivational training program or an engaging mission statement or vision. You can only improve it by changing how people are treated on an hour to hour basis.

As Tom Odum of Shell Oil said many years ago, “It’s hard to celebrate when you have been beaten up on the way to the party.”

Engagement requires policies, executive decisions and management behaviors that are focused on helping employees be successful. Respect their brains. Make them a vital part of determining how things are done, how problems are solved. After all, most executives have said at one time or another that their employees are their most valuable asset.

How many of the following five signs typical of engaged employees do you see in your organization?

  1. Volunteerism – Employees willingly lend a hand to co-workers, even when they aren’t asked.
  2. Dedication – Employees typically complete jobs/projects ahead of schedule and aren’t clock watchers; they often show up early or even stay late.
  3. Pride in accomplishments – Employees acknowledge the accomplishments of others and are pleased with their own success as well.
  4. Initiative – Employees openly offer ideas and solutions for improvement, and anticipate needs.
  5. Response to criticism/failure – Employees are open to feedback and make changes quickly.

As with most things in business, pure engagement is a leadership issue. It cannot be mandated; it must be done willingly. Leadership must be focused on creating a workplace where every employee advances the organizational mission every day. The mission of leaders should be to “create successful employees.”

It is only when the culture of a company is defined as a group of people working to create the best, most cost-effective, quality product or service and where they all see the accomplishments driven by their behavior on a regular basis that you will have employees who come to work after the weekend saying, “Thank goodness it’s Monday!”

Reprinted from Talent Management Magazine

Rolling Out the Dough Motivates Employees to Lose Pounds

Offering financial incentives may be more effective in motivating employees to achieve weight-loss goals than previously thought, according to a recent study conducted by the Mayo Clinic.

Participants in the study were grouped into one of four control groups. Two groups offered a $20 reward to individuals who were able to achieve a monthly weight-loss goal. The other two groups were offered no financial incentives.

According to the study, all participants were given a goal of losing four pounds per month up to a pre-determined weight. Those who could not achieve their goal for the month paid $20 into a lottery pool, which all individuals in the group were eligible to win.

The study found that 62 percent of participants in the financial-incentive group achieved their ultimate weight-loss goal, whereas only 26 percent of participants in the non-incentive group achieved their ultimate goal. The study also shows that participants in the incentive group who paid penalties for missed monthly goals were more likely to accomplish total weight-loss goals than participants in the non-incentive group.

“The take-home message is that sustained weight loss can be achieved by financial incentives,” which can improve results, and improve compliance and adherence to weight loss goals, said Dr. Steven Driver, lead author of the study and internal medicine resident at the Mayo Clinic, in a news release.

Dr. Donald Hensrud, preventive-medicine expert at the Mayo Clinic, says obesity continues to be a major concern in the United States because extra weight contributes to conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.

“Traditional therapies are not working for a lot of people, so people are looking for creative ways to help people lose weight and keep it off. The results of this study show the potential of financial incentives,” Hensrud said in the news release.

Reprinted from Workforce

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