Wednesday 22 March 2023
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Employee Engagement is a Vegas Game

employee engagementThe Game

In Vegas, you play games. Games that will either take your money or give you more money. For most of us – it is a take your money experience. There are a few that walk out “winners.” Very few.

And that is by design. Almost every game that Vegas offers are designed in a way to make sure that over time the “house” wins. I’m not revealing any secrets here. We all know it. And a huge number of us don’t care and play anyway. Casino owners have done the math and they can afford the best mathematicians (and computers) in the world to be sure they win. They also know they won’t win every bet. They are playing a longer game. They know – over time – they will win. They have the resources to wait you out. So even if you’re up a few grand (or if you’re with me in Vegas that would be a few 10’s) they know if you continue to play, you will give most if not all of it back.

Vegas has time. And money. And they know the odds. And they use those tools to be winners.

Play The Odds on Employee Engagement

When I think of employee engagement I look at it just like the games in Vegas. While the “house” in Vegas doesn’t win every time…. Neither does the company when comes to engaging employees. But if done right, over time, the company can and will win the engagement “game.” The key is to stay with the game and invest in the triggers that influence employee behavior. Some of the triggers are subtle and aren’t obvious. Some triggers need to be repeated often before employees begin to believe the company is dealing straight with them. But my experience is that most companies aren’t willing to play the longer game. They are not willing to use their two biggest assets when it comes to employee engagement.

Those assets are:

One – companies have money. If you’re a company with any kind of “P” in you P/L you can (and should) invest in the tools, training and techniques that can get your employees’ attention and connect with them.

Two – you have time. Unless you are a B-Series funded startup with $100K in the bank for the next 6 months and a run rate of $500K a month – you can wait for results. It’s not an infinite wait, but most companies have the ability to let results happen over a timeline of more than a quarter.

But most of the companies I’ve worked with almost always ignore these two key elements of an engagement strategy and want to spend as little as possible to get the fastest results.

And it always – I’ll repeat that word – always fails.

Just Like in Vegas

Just like Vegas – engagement is an outcome that takes time and multiple experiences and interactions. It is astronomically rare that someone walks into Vegas – places one bet and wins big. The same is true for companies and engagement. Few employees fall in love at first sight. And the inverse is true (unless you bet EVERYTHING) rarely does a reasonable gambler lose it all on the first game they play. And employees don’t become disengaged in one fell swoop either.

Engagement is built over multiple events and lost over multiple events.

Engagement is a Vegas game. You need to invest in the inputs and stay with the game long enough to win. Too many HR departments and C-Suite-ers want engagement to be a one-shot scratch off.

Hang in there. Play the longer game. Learn from Vegas. They have yet to lose.

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Paul Hebert is a writer, speaker and consultant focused on influencing behaviors and driving business results through employees, channel partners and consumers. Over the course of his career, Paul has worked closely with clients to design influence, marketing, motivation, incentive, loyalty, recognition and reward programs to increase effectiveness and reduce costs. Paul’s mission is to humanize the business relationships companies rely on to drive greater employee, channel and customer loyalty – and ultimately business results. He is dedicated to creating true emotional connections often overlooked in our automated, tech-enabled world. Through the use of proven motivational theory, behavioral economics and social psychology he has driven extraordinary company performance for his clients. Paul is widely considered an expert on motivation and incentives.