Employee Engagement

Employee Engagement: Motivating People to Be Better in the Workplace

Every employer and boss wants everyone in their organization to work at their best. When workers at are their best, tasks are finished on time, creativity is high, and productivity is unbeatable.

But it is no simple matter to accomplish this. Employers need to also consider employee engagement when they want to motivate people to be better in the workplace. There are many ways to do this. There are classes, seminars, workshops, and training camps for employee engagement. There are gadgets that can help. There are also programs and incentives that can help motivate employees.

But before you go into all that, it’s best to look at the core of the issue. It’s important to understand the nature of motivation. And it’s also essential to realize and recognize (which is harder than most people think) that people aren’t machines — they have complex personalities and a myriad of needs that affect the way they think and make decisions.

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Motivation, employee engagement, and what it means for a business

In essence, motivation in the workplace is all about one’s “will to work”. It stems from the individual’s enjoyment, satisfaction, and pleasure from accomplishing his or her work-related tasks. It also can stem from an employee’s desire to move further up the leadership ladder. It’s a feeling that drives a worker to be at his best, and deliver the best possible output in the least possible time.

It’s smart business management to realize that the kind of employee engagement in the organization has a direct effect on an employee’s motivation to work. Performance isn’t just about skill — it’s a very real possibility for a talented employee to perform poorly or deliver sub-par output if he or she does not feel motivated enough.

Employee engagement determines a lot of things. Skilled, talented and experienced employees can resign and leave because there isn’t enough employee engagement in an organization. And just imagine the time, effort, and resources needed to train a replacement. Proper and sufficient employee engagement ensures that the best employees stay and continue to contribute and be a part of the organization.

Besides positively contributing to productivity and employee turnover, proper employee engagement also gives a company a positive reputation. Companies that engage well with its employees are recognized by peers and associations, and are frequently sought after by job seekers. This means that the pool of talent a company can select from would be wide and deep, ensuring that they hire only the cream of the crop. In addition, motivated employees are also particularly important in posts like customer service, as this not only affects productivity and efficiency, it’s also a large part of the public face of a business. So a motivated customer service employee, for example, can help fashion a more positive view of the brand he or she represents.

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Personality profiles: The different kinds of employees

Every employee is different. Some people get more things done, others work at a different pace, and so on. Everyone has his or her own quirks — it’s understanding these quirks (and knowing what buttons to push) that will help you achieve better employee engagement in the organization.

The key to this is understanding the different common personality profiles that employees can be grouped under. A Fast Company article lists four kinds of employees: obliger, questioner, rebel, and upholder. Each personality determines how these people generally get things done and accomplish their goals.


Obligers are, on the surface, basically, good workers. They fulfil deliverables on time, they can be generally counted on to do what needs to be done. But the caveat here is that they struggle to meet their own inward and private expectations, and can be resistant to changing the way they do things because of failure they experienced in the past.

According to Gretchen Rubin, a personality profile guru and resource for the Fast Company article, obligers “do well with deadlines and team supervision. Workplaces have that all over the place.” She adds that for these kind of people to truly tap into their potential, it would help for an organization to create outside accountability for obligers’ goals so they have a better chance of seeing things through. Obligers should be encouraged to privately reach out to a superior or manager to discuss their internal goals so that these can be incorporated into the official tasks the employee needs to accomplish. A sort of “buddy system” can also be set up where each person helps and checks in on the other, helping to remind and motivate each other to meet various goals.


Normally, superiors balk when employees ask the reasoning behind a particular goal. Which is why many are discouraged from asking. But the thing is, the employees who asks questions like this aren’t doing so out of some sort of disrespect or rebellion, they just want to really understand why certain things are set the way they are. These people are called questioners, and they value efficiency and logic. They are driven by a need to have as much information as possible, and they need to know the reasons and rationale for something before they can make a decision comfortably.

While some questioners also need to communicate their questions in a better way, businesses should also realize that if a decision was backed by sound judgement and planning before it was disseminated, they have nothing to worry about — in fact, they can put questioners’ minds at ease and motivate them to work better because they know they’re not doing things “just because.” As an added benefit, it can also serve as a sort of check-and-balance for decision-makers to ensure that assignments, tasks, projects, and goals are well-planned and well-thought out. Appealing to questioners may also encourage a more open and transparent culture in the workplace, which can have universal benefits to employees and even customers alike. Win-win, right?


The word “rebel” generally has a negative connotation, but for our purposes, it simply means people who are generally resistant to expectations.

But the thing about this is that rebels tend to be people who value individuality above all else. They don’t necessarily have a bad view of superiors or authority, they just need to have freedom and the means for self-expression. The positives here is that they tend to enjoy challenges, so they are fine with some basic guidelines, and can be left to their own devices. The good thing here is that they won’t need to be supervised as much, so managers or supervisors can focus their time and effort on other tasks or other employees. So basically, it’s about giving rebels a bigger sense of freedom for them to do things their way. Rebels tend to be very creative and very driven, so understanding and providing the things to motivate them has the potential to produce some spectacular results.


Sort of the opposite of a rebel and a better version of the obliger, upholders have the ability to meet both inner and outer goals easily. However, they usually come very much lacking in the flexibility department, and can be ruffled by a new way of doing things, like a new software system, for example. They are also usually seen as rigid and struggle with unanticipated circumstances.

In the same way rebels can be utilized best for creative and flexible circumstances, upholders will thrive in tasks or assignments where there are strict rules that need to be followed. They’ll also work well with things that have fixed schedules and deadlines.

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To consider: Trends, and the current state of employee engagement

That being said, it’s important to know what employee engagement is looking like at the moment. This is essential in order to develop a better strategy to retain the great talent that you already have and attract those that are still out there.

Employee engagement is largely flat

According to a recent Gallup report, global productivity in the workplace is low, partly due to employee engagement remaining the same in recent years. It reports that in the U.S. and Canada in 2017, a mere 31% of workers were engaged in their jobs. And while employee engagement is expected to rise, it’s only by a few points. This means there is tremendous opportunity to attract and retain great talent by bucking the trend and creating a profile based strategy for better employee engagement.

Millennials will still be restless

The Wall Street Journal reports that millennials are poised to eventually comprise the majority of the workforce in the U.S. And given their different approach to and priorities in life, they can be (understandably?) restless in a traditional workplace environment. The opportunity here is to develop a better understanding of millennials and their personalities in order to keep them engaged and motivated.

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Leadership matters more than ever

The old workplace adage, “Workers don’t quit their jobs, they quit their bosses,” still holds. In a report by employee performance experts Dr. Brad Shuck and Maryanne Honeycutt-Elliott, studies indicate that “higher levels of engagement from employees who work for a compassionate leader—one who is authentic, present, has a sense of dignity, holds others accountable, leads with integrity and shows empathy.” They add that 74% of employees who have a compassionate leader who understands their needs say that will likely stay with the organization they are in for the next five years.

Employee feedback also matters

It wouldn’t be called “employee engagement” if it was only a one-sided conversation. Employee feedback matters, and should be counted in any organization decision-making process. Shuck and Elliot suggest adapting innovative technologies to allow employees to better speak out their concerns and needs. Allowing such a thing, they say, allows employees to feel more relevant, which in turn leads to better output and productivity. They recommend starting with a clear direction that includes the information in question, utilizing multiple channels and touchpoints to better engage with employees.

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Technology changes things for the better

Technology also plays a big part of creating better employee engagement. Tools like the ones provided by Runrun.it can help cut down on the traditionally tedious (and even expensive) but essential functions in the organization such as administrative and managerial tasks, as well as data collection. Tools like Runrun.it’s Smart Time Tracking don’t only allow for the usual timekeeping functions, but also enables you to track and collect data on how employees are using their time, how long projects and tasks are taking, and so on.

This creates better employee engagement, as this data will help you know when and where to step in to offer motivation and help employees if they’re feeling stumped or frustrated. It’ll help you cut inefficiencies and redundancies, which is good for all people in the organization. Another of Runrun.it’s other innovative tools, include the Dashboard, where you will have access to a customized kit of technological task and workflow management tools. No need to generate reports to access specific data — the Dashboard helps you have a better overview of how your organization is currently working. To see how Runrun.it can potentially change your organization for the better, you can sign up for a free trial here.


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