Why We Need Another Way.
Employee engagement has always been an important topic in the industry. But, how do you improve it? Do you try some type of team building activity? Maybe go bowling or have a company picnic? Or do you invest in people skills training? Things like: communication skills, emotional intelligence, or conflict resolution?
My experience with these is that they are typically short-lived and difficult to measure the impact over time. I do think they are important and they do boost morale and help employees to get to know each other better. But how can it be sustained over the long term? How can new employee be integrated sooner?
Here is my take on it:
We Need More People Skills
By people skills, I mean those skills that help us interact better with each other, such as: listening, encouraging, not interrupting, etc. I see more and more people becoming disconnected and distracted with their smartphones and social media. Particularly the younger generation. They seem to be losing valuable social skills needed to collaborate. It is exactly these people skills that will keep employees engaged and motivated. Team members learn how to better work together without stepping on each other's toes. They will also build trust and be able to support each other better. This Forbes article talks about the skills needed to succeed.
We Need It to be Simple
Trying to cram 2-3 days worth of lectures and videos into your head once a year cannot be the best way to learn. How is anyone expected to remember all of it, let alone put it into practice. It appears obvious that it is easier to learn and recall small amounts of information. It then makes sense to teach the basics in small bites and then give learners a chance to use what they were taught before moving on to the next lesson.
This Time article talks about the importance of learning in small chunks.
We Need More Games
As children, we play games all day and that is how the majority of learning happens. Why do we stop using play to teach? It is more fun, more engaging, more interesting, we retain more, and it is more efficient. Imagine when you tell prospective employees that your company plays games on a regular basis in order to learn. I would want to work there. Even for less pay!
Playing games together increases bonding, trust, and camaraderie. I can't think of anything more engaging for employees than to play games together. Work can be tedious and frustrating at times. For the sake of sanity and mental health, it is always good to take a break from the normal and have a laugh together.
Here is an interesting quote:
"Scientists have recently determined that it takes approximately 400 repetitions to create a new synapse in the brain -unless it is done with play, in which case it takes between 10-20 repetitions! "
-Dr Karyn Purvis, ICD
Watch this Tedx talk about game based learning.
We Need It More Often
One or two team building activities a year is not enough. In order to maintain a constant level of bonding, a constant effort needs to be made. Imagine if a couple only spent alone time together once a year. I think that kind of relationship would be difficult to maintain. It is even harder to keep up those relations at work as many people tend to distance themselves personally while at work.
Check out this Medium article on the importance of repetition.
We Need Constant Feedback
If we don't know what we are doing wrong, how can we fix it? How many times have you said, "I never knew that I did that!" Having an outside view is critical in order to recognize behaviors. This is the first step toward changing behaviors. We also need a constant reminders and encouragement so that we don't lose sight of our goals.
I know for myself that if I am on a diet and nobody is watching me, I will certainly have a much more difficult time of keeping that diet. It helps to have a coach or copilot cheering you on and reminding you of your potential.
Here is a great article from EduMe detailing the relationship of feedback to learning.
Let's Create More Sustainable Employee Engagement
I propose that we shake up the training world and start training like athletes. They learn simple and memorable concepts, play games to reinforce skills, practice on a regular basis, and have a coach to give them constant feedback.
I would love to hear your thoughts here in this discussion and please feel free to contact me to talk about it more!