Give Purpose & Passion
 (Employee Engagement Strategy, Part 4)

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Table of Contents

Everyone wants a job that’s rewarding and exciting, and every employer wants employees to deliver exceptional outcomes. … These two goals go together! This guide explores 4 ways you can cultivate purpose and passion in your staff.

Reward Good Performance

  • Reward employees with recognition.
  • You can also offer vacation days, gifts, and more.
  • Explore other creative reward ideas.

Give Employees Autonomy

  • Find employees who have strong discipline.
  • Conduct 1-on-1 meetings regularly.

Encourage Passion Projects

  • Give employees time to pursue their own projects.
  • Encourage participation in company committees.

Lead by Example

  • Step into your staff’s shoes.
  • Be mindful of words and tone.
  • Lead by example.

1. Reward Good Performance

Reward employees with recognition.

Everyone wants to be recognized for their hard work. Overlooking successes is guaranteed to demotivate your staff.

Take a moment to reflect on your best employees. Who went above and beyond your expectations this month? What have you done recently to go above and beyond their expectations?

You can reward employees for free with:

  • handwritten notes
  • LinkedIn recommendations
  • recognition during a group meeting
  • one-on-one mentoring (try taking them out for coffee)
  • job switch for a day (also a great training opportunity)

You can also offer vacation days, gifts, and more.

You can help your employees relax with:

  • office massages
  • pet days
  • spa days
  • cooking lessons
  • paid-time-off on birthdays

You can treat employees with:

  • snacks
  • free lunch
  • donations to a charity of their choice
  • their favorite liquor
  • FitBits or other gadgets
  • half-day off Fridays
  • event tickets
  • standing desk
  • office ping pong table
  • paid-for vacation

Explore other creative reward ideas.

Check out this list of 100 more ways to reward employees, or check this out these recommendations by top recruiters and HR managers.

You can get going today. Think of an employee who you haven’t recognized recently. Show your appreciation by giving them a reward from our list.

Pet days are a great way to show appreciation and boost your employee’s happiness. (Photo by WeWork.)

2. Give Employees Autonomy

Find employees who have strong discipline.

Give your employees more responsibility and hold them accountable for results.

At Idaho Central Credit Union, Deanna Turner manages a 19-person team. Most members work in roles that require autonomy most of the time. According to Deanna, finding employees with strong discipline is important for ensuring that their time and the company’s resources are managed responsibly.

Conduct 1-on-1 meetings regularly.

To manage employees with a high level of autonomy, Deanna recommends conducting regular 1-on-1 meetings as well as training employees on calendar management. Both tools allow employees to communicate how they are spacing time with ICCU’s management teams.

“Our department motto is, ‘Give more than you take,’” Deanna says. “I encourage my team to manage their time and spend our company resources as if it were their own. If you wouldn’t spend $20.00 of your personal money to buy lunch, don’t spend $20.00 on a lunch that will be expensed to the company.”

Giving employees autonomy isn’t without its challenges, but Deanna finds that most of the time when employees have trouble, management can coach them to develop better discipline. “Make sure that your expectations are very clear. You might have to reel them in by helping them manage their calendar and keeping close track on where they spend their time until they regain your trust and you are confident that they have developed disciplined habits.”

Deanna says, “We believe in positivity and putting people first. When we treat our team members with love and respect, they treat our members with love and respect and the business thrives.”

3. Encourage Passion Projects

Give employees time to pursue their own projects.

Google allows all employees to spend one day each week pursuing a passion project that they choose. This “20% time” resulted in many profitable businesses including AdSense, Gmail, and Google Maps.

Meridian, Idaho based product company Scentsy allowed information technology employees to dedicate 10% of their time to passion projects or education. According to Christopher Johnson, Scentsy’s Vice President of IT, the goal was to develop new intellectual property for Scentsy and provide employees with opportunities to grow and develop new skillsets.

Scentsy encountered a common issue: No matter how much time they allocated, employees still felt a sense obligation to their primary responsibilities and continued to commit nearly 100% of their time to day-to-day activities. Employees still found benefit, however, since they finally had time to address inefficiencies that otherwise would not have been addressed.

“Our employees are technologists that are great at executing on an idea,” Chris says. “However, without an innovation framework in place, they often stall during the idea generation phase. The purposefully loose structure of the program caused a lack of accountability in committing to complete an idea/project.”

For now, Scentsy has discontinued the program. However, Chris says they’re open to relaunching the program with a few key modifications to add structure and increase accountability. These include:

  • requiring employees to commit to a goal before commencing on a 10% project
  • pairing every technologist with a product manager from the business
  • injecting staff’s 10% passion projects into their existing work backlogs

Encourage participation in company committees.

Another way to involve your employees in causes they care about and help them develop career skills is to welcome them to participate in a company committee.

For example, ProService Boise employees formed an Employee Wellness Committee and requested an on-site gym. “We broke up the research to several employees and allowed them to present their case to management,” says Human Resources Director Kay Walter. “I provided them with a series of questions regarding legal, risk, facilities, insurance, etc, that they had to come prepared to address. I encouraged them to put together a PowerPoint presentation of their findings. It gave them the chance to collaborate, design, and present to management—all skills they would use as they grow professionally.”

4. Lead by Example

Step into your staff’s shoes.

Try doing some of your team members’ day-to-day activities. When you do, you’ll see the challenges they deal with and observe how they make you feel. Working alongside your employees is an opportunity to model best practices as well as identify ways to make their work faster or more comfortable.

Be mindful of words and tone.

As you talk to employees, be mindful of what you say and how you say it. Follow the best practices taught by Dale Carnegie in “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by staying open-minded, positive, and respectful to everyone in your company.

Lead by example.

Leadership is actively living your beliefs, not just talking about them. Leading by example means showing employees how you want them to work, communicate, and act. You can do this by modeling the values, mindsets, choices, behaviors, and habits you want your employees to show.

  • If you want your employees to uphold integrity, keep your promises to your customers and employees.
  • If you want your employees to keep improving, then make sure you speak the language of a person with a growth mindset.
  • If you want your employees to dress professionally, set the standard.
  • If you want your employees to be punctual, show up on time to your meetings with them (even if it’s inconvenient).
  • If you’d like to see your employees read a book every week, try doing the same and starting a small library in the office.
Dale Carnegie’s timeless tips stem from the Golden Rule, to treat people as you would want to be treated. Modeling these communication best practices is a surefire way to create a harmonious company culture that allows employees to engage fully in their work.

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