How nurturing employee engagement helped us create a kick-ass team

The hottest topic in human resource circles (if we turn a blind eye to employer branding) is definitely employee engagement.

When we talk about people and teams, one way or another, motivation often creeps into the conversation.

But what keeps people motivated and engaged at work?

Guess what? There’s no simple or universal answer to this question. The solution varies from situation to situation.

The hardest, and yet most important, the job of every leader is to discover what motivates their people. You can be sure you won’t get this answer by asking the “what motivates you’’ question at the interview stage – people always have an answer ready for that. To really know what motivates your staff, you need to pay attention and read between the lines.

Creating an engaging organizational culture is like looking for your favorite radio station – you need to do some fine tuning. As you look for individual motivators, you also need to take a step back and look at the whole group’s drive.

Every living soul has some internal drive – something that’s keeping them going and pushing them to do more. For me, the biggest drive is having a connection with a company’s values and mission. The job itself can be interesting and exciting, but if I don’t feel a rush about our plans and successes, my motivation is going to melt like a snowman on a sunny afternoon. Now, I know this sounds cheesy, but I love to work on projects and with products that I believe will have a positive impact on our society.

Content Insights and I are a perfect match. Content Insights is saving the media industry one publisher at the time; by empowering media companies to focus their efforts on quality, we’re helping them to become sustainable without succumbing to clickbait titles and fake news. Isn’t that something? 😊

As a People Operations Manager, my job is to look for those tiny hints, to read between the lines and find a way to inspire and engage our teammates. Here are some factors I’ve identified during two years at Content Insights:

Accomplishment

People love to feel accomplished, and to be recognized and celebrated. To feel truly accomplished, you need to see a clear connection between your work and a successful result. How we do that at Content Insights? Simply by giving people the freedom to do things in the way they find works best. We don’t blindly follow procedures and industry standards – teams get to decide which technologies they want to use. Nothing is imposed – every person is a decision-maker in his or her own role and is free to act as he or she finds best. Yes, mistakes do happen, but we don’t punish them – we learn from them.

Every last Friday of the month, we gather together to celebrate our successes at an event called Friday Show-off. These events allow teams to share their accomplishments and feel proud of their work, while also keeping everyone fully informed about what’s going on at the company.

Freedom

With great freedom comes great responsibility. That’s the first thing you need to keep in mind when you’re building a flexible work environment. We allow our team members to tailor their working hours and vacation days. There are no limitations, but there is one rule: deliver what’s expected on time. And this actually works. We have our plans, sprints, releases, and OKRs. We know what we need to do and when. We get the job done at our own pace.

Friendliness

We’re all friends here. We like to come to work, to see each other and spend the day together. Our work breaks are like hangouts, where we crack jokes and eat excessive amounts of popcorn and sweets.

Our founders started this culture, and people followed. Some 80% of our employees joined the company based on recommendations, which has contributed a lot to our open and friendly culture, and we nurture it with care. During the selection process, we’re very careful about looking for a good cultural fit and finding the right people to join the crew.

Loyalty

I find this essential. Our retention rate is almost 100%. People are loyal to Content Insights because they are Content Insights – and we do our best not to forget that. The company listens to its employees, management is always asking for opinions, and power is distributed equally. It’s a relationship built on trust and respectability. Now, when the workforce fluctuation is bigger than ever, this is the greatest asset a company can have: loyal employees.

For my own motivation, besides the mission, I love the freedom given to me to create and shape the People Operations department. I love how much I learn through work, and from the people around me. I love when the CEO leaves some books at my table, when I get dozens of unicorns for a Secret Santa, and when I laugh until I cry. Of course, this isn’t a fairyland. Sometimes there are hard choices to be made, sometimes freedom is full of uncertainty, and you can’t always be sure you’re doing the right thing. But all these challenges are a hell of a lot easier when you have a friendly face nearby and someone who believes in you.

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