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Shawna Schuh

Do the Employees at Your Pet Business Feel Engaged?

Understanding what makes employees feel engaged — or disengaged — will lead to a stronger team and higher retention.

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HOW DO YOU engage employees? And if they are engaged, will they stay?

One thing seems to fit into another, doesn’t it?

“Engagement” is an interesting word. The Employee Engagement Survey conducted by CustomInsight defines it in a business context as: “the extent to which employees feel passionate about their jobs, are committed to the organization and put discretionary effort into their work.”

The term “discretionary effort” then must be addressed: Aubrey C. Daniels, Ph. D., of Performance Management consulting company, defines it as “the level of effort people could give if they wanted to, but above and beyond the minimum required.”

I believe this is what we want, crave and are reading this column for!

So how do we make people want to work for us, give more effort and feel passionate about work?

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Here’s my take:

By making them understand how their contribution helps or serves someone else.

And there’s the rub. Most people don’t feel they make a difference, but instead feel like they are simply filling a role. Or that they are working to make their bosses or the organization wealthy.

When you ask someone what they do for work, it will tell you if they are engaged or not.

Examples:

  • I work the register.
  • I mostly clean up.
  • I have to deal with customers all day.
  • I do whatever the boss tells me.
  • I work at a pet shop, grooming salon, training facility, etc.

None of these answers are from people who are engaged, because they are doing a “job.” They are focused on tasks and labels and expectations.

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What you call them also disengages them:

  • Sales clerk
  • Employee
  • Staff

If you are following me, the goal is that you will begin to shift your mindset and start to engage with your team in new ways.

I use the word “team” deliberately. When I am an employee, staff, sales clerk, I am solo-focused, taking care of my job, just doing my time.

As part of a team, I know that my contribution combines with others, that my performance, attitude and skills matter to a larger group. And if that is combined with a shared goal that everyone understands and believes in? Open the flood gates!

I work with leaders and entrepreneurs all the time on these issues, and it’s not a quick fix. However, to begin this process, here is the first thing you can do:

Get rid of the labels that pull people apart. Employee, staff, sales clerk, manager, supervisor. And please, for heaven’s sake, refrain from putting the word “my” in front of them. My employees, my staff, my manager. Do you own them? How do you think that makes them feel?

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Next, and last for this space and idea, spend some time in your team meetings and team communications talking about how each person contributes to the shared goal. And a shared goal isn’t about your profits.

When you do this, you will have engaged team members, and engaged team members are much more likely to stay. Isn’t that a wonderful thing?

Shawna Schuh is a certified speaking professional, an executive coach, master neuro linguistic programming practitioner and president of Women in the Pet Industry Network. Email her at shawna@womeninthepetindustry.com.

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