Increasing Employee Engagement without Being Forceful

Steve Jobs, who everyone admires as one of the foremost tech geniuses who ever lived, once said to an employee in a loud voice when they asked if he was going to fire them: “No, I already fired you! So why are still here?” He thought nothing of getting rid of anyone who would stand in the way of his goals for Apple. He forgot about the human factor.

The workplace can be an intimidating place. Supervisors yelling at employees over late time cards, less-than-perfect work performance, and numerous other problems. People have come to dread their work week. But does it have to be that way? Do you want a stream of workers who are only there to keep your payroll services department busy?

Some of the best and most profitable workplaces in the country don’t think so. Look at Google, for example. They pay their employees extremely well, compensate them for overtime, offer free food, free daycare, and free educations, all in an effort to change the game in the workplace.

So how does Google do this? What is their strategy? And how can you increase employee engagement without being forceful?

Here are a few ideas to get started. See if you can apply any or all of these to your business to improve production and morale.


  1. Give bonuses or rewards for best or fastest performance on the job. This is based on a pay-per-performance model and it has been highly successful in a number of contexts in the workplace. It’s really just basic behavioral psychology. When people are rewarded positively for a job well done, they will work even harder to do better. If they are depressed due to continual badgering or negative talk, just the opposite will occur. They’ll shut down. So which do you want for your business? The rewards can come in the form of more pay or a day off. You decide.
  1. Include staff in major staff policy decisions. If you want to motivate people to get on the boat more in your company, make them a First Mate. In other words, let them help decide some of what goes on in the company. This will empower employees to feel more a part of the team, rather than just a rudder on the ship that moves it along. One easy way to do this is with fun online polling tools or surveys.
  1. Gamification of the workplace. Google has this one perfected. Employees get to play outside with games like soccer and badminton, computer games, long walks, and bike rides between work times. The workplace itself is even gamified. In other words, it offers a challenge with a hook that draws people in and makes them want to achieve new levels of success. And when employees want to succeed, your business will too.
  1. Offer vacation days during conference dates and compensate employees who opt in. If you want to stir up your best workers to get them with the program, offer an extra bonus incentive for any staff members who go to the conference during their vacation time. This will not only help boost morale, but it will be fun and it will also show you who your most dedicated workers are.
  1. Talk to employees more as a friend. One of the problems between bosses and employees is that they feel a huge chasm between ranks. When you mix and mingle with employees, you gain their respect and they feel you care about them more.

Remember the goal is to improve the attitudes, morale, and productivity of your staff. If you do this, and keep people happy, you will be more likely to motivate them to do what you need them to do. Because a company is not just about contracts and payroll services. It’s about people.

Malcolm Rowlings – Business Management & Staffing Consultant

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