This blog post is the first in a series on employee engagement and motivation.
Nearly 11% of professionals, such as doctors, nurses and lawyers, are “actively disengaged” in the workplace, according to Gallup’s 2017 State of the Global Workplace report. They’re showing up for work but they’re unhappy and likely looking for another job.
As difficult as that is for employers to hear, perhaps the more troubling finding is that 62% of professionals are “not engaged.” While they’re not completely disengaged, they’re uninspired and doing just enough to get the job done. That means that they aren’t going the extra mile, looking for ways to improve the customer experience or innovating as much as they’re capable of. Let’s consider what that might look like for companies that employ sales reps: Maybe the reps are making one less customer visit per day, or maybe they’re spending less time preparing for the next customer visit.
While this is a big problem, employers shouldn’t feel powerless, and they definitely shouldn’t take the situation at face value. In fact, we’ve seen significant impact when companies tap into this group of neutrally engaged sales reps. So why aren’t more companies working to engage these neutral employees? Because it’s hard. Some companies don’t know where their gaps lie. Others try some initiatives, but they fizzle out. Others try many initiatives but don’t assign a clear owner.
However, some have gotten it right. We analyzed a few companies with engaged employees and uncovered three common success factors:
- Talk to your employees. It’s critical to have a method in place to gather actionable insights from the sales team on what matters to them and to identify any gaps in their current experiences. Doesn’t it make sense to go straight to the source? After all, they likely have firsthand knowledge to explain why engagement levels may have dipped and how to get back on track.
- Establish an engagement program. Once you’ve gathered feedback from your employees, it’s important that they know that you have a plan to use that knowledge to improve engagement. Show them that you mean it by creating a dedicated program with clear ownership and ongoing initiatives.
- Get senior buy-in. Improving employee engagement requires a change in culture, and that means everyone from the top down needs to support the endeavor. In the case of improving sales rep engagement rates, first-line managers need to be actively involved.
With these three ingredients for success, companies have been able to make a difference in employee engagement and, in turn, energize their sales forces. After recognizing these patterns among our clients, we even tried it on ourselves. We ran an internal contest with two groups (control vs. test), offering the same rules and prizes to both. The only difference was that we gave the test group a series of communications targeted at employee engagement. The results were very telling: The test group outperformed the control group by 50% in just one month. Since then, we have done similar experiments with sales teams and have seen even more positive results.
To reenergize your disengaged or neutrally engaged sales reps, following these three steps is a good place to start. I have no doubt that you’ll quickly see a big impact, and a more efficient and productive team.
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