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How to Seriously Drive Employee Engagement

If you won the lottery tomorrow, would you stop working? Chances are you’ve mulled it over before, even if you don’t buy a ticket often. When jackpot amounts grow to rival pro athletes’ salaries, the subject inevitably creeps into everyday conversation. At that point, it’s hard not to think and talk about what we would do as the recipient of a massive windfall.

So how do you think others responded? The answer may surprise you.

According to a study by Gallup, two-thirds of American workers would keep their nose to the grindstone, even after winning $10 million. A CareerBuilder survey reported that half of U.S. workers would continue working after winning the lottery, even “if they didn’t need a job financially.”

That’s right: If over half the working population’s biggest financial hurdles disappeared tomorrow, they would come to work the day after. But why?

In addition to the desire to maintain relationships with co-workers, 77% of respondents told CareerBuilder they would be bored without a job, and 76% said their work gives them a sense of purpose and accomplishment.

Why Purpose Is a Must

As those survey results show, in order to lead a fulfilling life, people need more than money. They need a reason to get out of bed in the morning. They need to know their actions matter in the grand scheme of things. They need to feel part of something bigger than themselves.

Work can help meet those needs, and when it does, employees feel purposeful, connected and intrinsically motivated: the winning trifecta of long-term engagement. Passion for helping achieve the company’s mission will sustain them when you’re unable to reward them extrinsically with cash or perks. Purpose will keep them going for the long haul.

Without purpose, employee engagement strategy becomes little more than a series of rewards that prod employees forward, but never inspire them to greatness. Not only is a piecemeal strategy ineffectual, it’s unsustainable. The pressure to constantly invent and implement ideas to motivate them quickly can exhaust resources and even the most zealous HR pro.

Your employee engagement strategy should include both extrinsic, short-term rewards and high-level purpose.

Building a Purpose-Driven Strategy

If you currently give employees annual or short-term goals and financial incentives, you’re on the right track toward building a purpose-driven strategy. If not, consider incorporating those aspects into your performance management plan. Then share your business’s ultimate purpose – its reason for being – with your people.

“A reason for being is a non-typical mission statement that has four criteria,” writes Jacob Morgan, futurist and author of The Employee Experience Advantage. “It rallies employees, is not centered on financial gain, is unattainable and talks about the impact the organization has on communities and the world.”

According to Morgan, major companies like Starbucks and Airbnb already have established their “reasons for being” and are seeing positive results. If you’re interested in doing the same, listen to this week’s episode of Paycom’s HR Break Room podcast. In it, Morgan will share steps companies take to define their reason for being, and tips on how you can, too. Click here to subscribe.

Once you’ve defined your business’s ultimate purpose, share it with employees. Doing so will make it easy for them to understand how their contributions count toward reaching the larger, common goal. That combined with other efforts – like pulse surveys, financial incentives, goal setting and professional development opportunities – will increase your odds of building a winning strategy and engaging employees for years to come.