Buying-In: Why And How To Increase Employee Engagement

Today we’re going to talk about employee “buy-in.” What it means, why it is important to your company and how to get more of it from your employees. When we talk about the concept of getting employees to buy-in, we’re talking about increasing their belief in the company vision and getting them engaged to the point they want to take ownership of their role in the grand scheme. See, employees are looking for a purpose when it comes to their work. An easily stated and outwardly directed purpose. A clear company culture is critical to any organization’s success.

Why is it so important? Studies have shown that highly engaged or “bought-in” employees produce at a much higher level than their counterparts. They become more invested in the company, especially when they understand the vision for that company’s future. Knowing how they fit into that future will give them a greater sense of importance and in turn increase their sense of ownership while performing their day to day duties. The mission and values of the company become aligned with that of the individual. The company’s success becomes their success. The reverse is also true. Disengaged employees can become distant, lack motivation and ultimately become disconnected. This lack of interest can lead to poor effort and repeated mistakes.

Two things happen when you reach a level of full engagement with your staff.

1) Your staff will become less resistant to change.

2) You will see less turnover.

Periods of change are usually the toughest for employees, especially when changes take place in management or process. Usually a change in management leads to a change in process, but not always. This can cause some push back from your staff. Change is typically resisted and can lead to morale decline and even resignations. However, when your staff is completely bought in times of change become less tumultuous. This leads to less resistance and fewer resignations. Keep in mind anyone that does leave during a time of transition was probably never bought-in in the first place and is, in a sense, dead weight. The employees that choose to stick around have bought-in. They will be more likely to help in the training of new hires to ensure the company mission is fully understood and accepted. These will become the shining examples for how a staff member should conduct themselves while fulfilling their duties.

So how do you get to this level of engagement? You start with the mission and vision. Know your WHY. When you set out to build your company you had something meaningful in mind that you wanted to accomplish outside of being the best in your field or providing the best product. For example, a sanitation company may be responsible for cleaning restrooms. Their surface goal is to make toilets and sinks shine. Their deeper goal could be to make the world a cleaner, safer and healthier place. Starbucks’ deeper goal isn’t just about a great cup of coffee. It is about providing an enhanced environment for working and living while also serving a great cup of coffee. Chick-fil-a, in their training video, teach new employees that everyone is dealing with their own personal struggle that you may not be able to see on the surface. Their deeper purpose is to provide a level of service and interaction that enhances your mood and does not add to your troubles. People are more invested in the deeper mission your brand is built on. A good place to start is with a mission statement. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just 3-5 sentences explaining who you are and what you’re about. Write it down, put it on a poster or engrave it in stone. Whatever you do, make sure you articulate this mission to your staff and incorporate it in everything you do. When you turn your aspirations into action your WHY becomes your HOW. Your customers will see it and your employees will feel it.

Communicate with your staff as often as possible to reinforce the mission. Be specific about what needs to be done in order to realize the vision. Don’t leave any grey areas. A clearly defined path or set of principles allows your staff to act decisively and be more effective in their duties. Don’t be afraid to get up close and personal either. Face to face interaction is very important. If you only communicate with your staff through emails or by phone you are making a huge mistake. Have regularly scheduled team meetings and take time throughout the week to meet with employees on a one on one basis, even if it’s only for a few minutes. Be open to their feedback and encourage them to ask questions. Being open and accepting of their ideas helps to build trust and creates a greater sense of belonging and ownership.

You have to show them that you care. Knowing you have an employer or manager that genuinely gives a darn about you and values you is one of the best motivators to continue producing great work. It’s how you cultivate a culture of engagement and belonging. This leads to team continuity and, as a result a strong company. The bottom line is, invested employees stick around longer, work harder and in the long run continue to add more and more value to your organization.

About Mike Williams

Mike Williams is the newest addition to The Route Pros. His expertise is route systems, route driver development and marketing strategies. He currently oversees Route Pro university in Kansas City but also travels once a month to work with the industry’s finest.