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A Simple Approach to Increase Employee Engagement

By Carol Piras, Managing Partner, The Piras Group

Increase Employee Engagement

The statistics are abysmal – employee engagement is stagnant.  In 2016, Gallup reported that 36% of employees were engaged.  Further, with millennials, 29% are engaged, while 55% are not.  Statistics like these abound from just about any big research firm out there.  We also know the #1 reason people leave a job is his/her direct relationship with the boss.  With such stakes on the line, the question is: “How do we truly drive greater engagement with employees?” 

The Employee Engagement Challenge

It is simply not enough to do an annual performance appraisal and expect things to change.  Nor will greater socials, perks, and company concierge services.  Further, many large companies are starting to rethink their entire performance management systems as an administrative waste in time that produces more negative results than it intends.  These are being replaced with more frequent manager/employee conversations regarding goals, direction, performance and career development.

If we step back and evaluate the employee experience with engagement, it starts with the hiring and onboarding/assimilation process.  Engagement continues with ensuring employees understand the company and department direction, goals and expectations.  And engagement increases on an ongoing basis by getting to know your employees more uniquely to affect growth and development.  Yes, discussing performance is part of this process too.  Knowing what motivates and drives each employee helps a manager to understand how to best manage and grow him/her.

The challenge is how to help managers accelerate and sustain these conversations in a meaningful and productive way. 

We have a new approach to developing engagement quickly, easily, and sustainably. We’ve been working with a large organization using this new idea and have seen some great results.

The Engagement Cards with 5 Suites

Our Motivation to Develop a New Tool for Employee Engagement

We work with so many companies struggling to improve employee engagement, we were motivated to try something unique. In order to take the worry out of the conversation, we thought that using a gamification concept might help.  Towards this end we created The Engagement Cards: a deck of cards that a manager and employee or manager and team could use to open a conversation, break the ice, and/or consider challenging questions in a more relaxed context of choosing cards.

This deck of cards has 5 “suites” – each with a specific set of questions for discussion.  Suites included concepts such as “Getting to Know You”, “Successes and Wins”, “Job Satisfaction and Improvement”, “Learning and Development” and “Direction and Alignment”.  Each suite presents neutral questions that either manager or employee can answer, and should. In all, 5 suites, 52 cards, with neutral questions that can be used in a variety of settings. Some of these questions bring deeper conversations to the table in a non-confrontational way. Others help managers and employees to share information that otherwise feels too serious or awkward unless there’s already a solid relationship.

Samples of The Engagement Cards

The Engagement Cards Development and Discovery

We set out to conduct an experiment with first line managers at one of our clients using the cards concept.  Here is the process we used:

  1. We designed and facilitated both manager and employee workshops to introduce why engagement was so important, who plays what role, and the critical business and people issues everyone needed to understand.
  2. We introduced the concept of the cards in the workshop to allow people to “play” with the idea and the questions.  We helped participants to understand various ways to use the cards from individual 1:1 meetings, to staff meetings, to team building events.
  3. We requested that participants play with the cards over a 6 week period and report back to us what they discovered.

To our great delight, managers and employees both loved the cards!  They became an icebreaker in 1:1 meetings.  They became useful for team members to get to know each other.  They were used in staff meetings to help employees have fun in the conversations.  We had one group that used it for speed dating as two functions were brought together to meet each other!

What we discovered is that the focus of the conversations was on the cards.  Conversations were anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes on average.  The cards created a neutral process for more in-depth conversations to take place.  Managers found they learned something new about their employees.  Employees found that they enjoyed hearing from their managers about goals, direction, and accomplishments. 

The cards served their intended purpose—as a tool to help managers begin engagement conversations.  The cards also helped with providing questions a manager might not typically ask.  For new employees, the card deck is particularly helpful in learning more about the organization.  The “Direction and Alignment” cards are particularly useful in helping employees further understand priorities as well as to help managers ensure their employees know what’s most important.

The Engagement Cards Are Now Available

Order your decks of The Engagement Cards today!

If you would like more information about The Engagement Cards, please contact Carol Piras.


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