According to the Cambridge Dictionary, activate means to “cause something to start working.” But with any luck, your employees are already doing that—working—and you’re here because you’re looking for ways to level up. If you’d like to make work more meaningful for both you and your employees, then pursuing an employee activation strategy can help (at least until someone comes up with a better term for it).
So what is employee activation and how can your organization set it in motion? Here’s our take on it, and some ideas on how to get started.
Employee Activation: What is it (and why do it)?
Years ago, former Apple executive Guy Kawasaki wrote a book called The Art of the Start. In it, he talks about how to turn ordinary customers into evangelists—or, more precisely, “raging thunder lizard evangelists.” These are the customers that, without any prompting, go out and scream about your brand from the rooftops because they love it so much.
Activating your employees is intended to produce a similar result in the workplace: employees who are passionate about your organization and their work, and are excited to spread the word. They believe in what they’re doing, talk about it willingly to outsiders, and envision a positive future for themselves at the company.
Activated employees become engaged employees, which is why it’s good for you as a business. Engaged employees are far more likely to put in what’s referred to as discretionary effort—for instance, staying late occasionally because they want to (not because they have to). They’re engaged in their work, they believe in the mission, and, as a result, they’re also more likely to stay in their jobs.
Culture Vs. Employee Activation Vs. Employee Engagement
Workplace-centered verbiage is multiplying faster than a fluffle of bunnies—sometimes it’s hard to keep track. Three important but distinctive concepts to remember are:
It’s hard to put a dollar sign on the benefits associated with activation and engagement, but of course, that’s never stopped people from trying: Research has shown that employee turnover costs U.S. companies $160 billion a year, and that a disengaged employee costs organizations approximately $3,400 for every $10,000 in annual salary. (Even if they’re wrong, why risk it??)
One thing that’s definitely true: Passion is infectious, so if you have activated employees at your company, other people can’t help but be affected. And I’m not talking about Shane from HR who’s super positive about everything—I’m talking about people who are truly invested in what they do and love to help other people grow and learn. They’re going to spread that excitement among your customers and your employees, which in turn will boost morale, engagement, and all that other good stuff.
3 “Must-do’s” For Successful Employee Activation
In case you’re thinking employee activation is easy to pull off, it isn’t as simple as directing your employees to post on social media. If you want to nurture a more genuine level of connectedness between you and your staff, design your activation strategy with these three things in mind:
1. Define your company’s goals for activation.
First, identify what you want to achieve from this effort. Is your goal to increase customer loyalty? To increase website traffic? Something else? It’s impossible to design an effective activation strategy without first knowing your objective.
2. Link activation activities to your staff’s career goals.
Activation is about employees taking the initiative to perform a genuine action, and that only works if there’s something in it for them, too. That’s why activation works best when it aligns with an employee’s career growth goals.
Say your goal is to raise your brand’s profile. To help achieve this goal, your activation strategy might focus on developing thought leaders. You could create a series of internal workshops around how to become a subject matter expert, or create a thought leadership point board where employees can accrue thought leadership points, leading to a potential pay bump. Not only do these tactics help you but they also help employees to develop as experts in their field.
3. Leave employees time for activating activities.
We all know the feeling of being so mired down in daily work tasks that you don’t have time to think. Every team works at maximum capacity some of the time, but if that’s the norm day in and day out, then your activation dreams are pie in the sky. Make sure your employees have the time—and the autonomy—to pursue the work-related projects they’re passionate about. (Think of Google’s 20% Rule!) More than likely it will benefit you both.
Set the stage for employee activation with a Firefly Event.
No matter what employee activation ideas you come up with, they aren’t likely to work unless you’re starting with a strong foundation: a cohesive team and good communication.
At Firefly, shoring up those foundations is our specialty! We’ve been working with organizations like yours for more than 16 years, developing fun, morale-boosting events that bring teams together. No two events are alike—they’re tailored to your team and your goals, so everyone has the best experience possible (and always comes away laughing!). Best of all, the trust, communication, and self-awareness that develop during our events carry back into the workplace, setting the stage for better performance.
Check out our site to see some of our amazing events and reviews, or get in touch with us by filling out the below!