Using Analytics to Motivate Employees, Part II

Submitted on: Wed, 01.17.2018 07:04pm - Annie Eissler |
Using Analytics to Motivate Employees, Part II

How to leverage technology and analytics to create psychological ownership opportunities across your organization
In the first segment of this blog series, you learned that employee engagement is at an all-time low, the labor market is tight, and 60% of millennial employees are open to a different job opportunity (15 percentage points higher than the percentage of non-millennial workers who say the same). Cumulatively, these factors are forcing companies to rethink the way they engage, motivate, and retain employees.
But without a motivated workforce, your company can’t move forward or achieve its goals. Known as “psychological ownership,” this new type of ownership helps workers feel as though their organization or their job is “theirs,” to the point that the company becomes an important part of their self-identity.
To effectively create those emotional connections and improve employee engagement and involvement, companies are leveraging technology, or more specifically, an analytics solution like MITS, which provides transparency into what is happening in the business. Analytics can also empower everyone in the business to see the impact of their actions on company results and self-service analysis of what they can do differently.
“Employees often express a desire for greater psychological ownership of their work, believing this will improve their job satisfaction and happiness,” Francesca Gino writes in HBR’s How to Make Employees Feel Like They Own Their Work. In fact, management research has found that these expectations do play out. For instance, using data from over 800 employees, two higher education researchers found that employees’ sense of psychological ownership for the organization is positively associated with both their attitudes (job satisfaction and commitment to the organization) and work behavior (performance and organizational citizenship).
No More Business as Usual
Facing traditional and new competition, government regulations, uncertain economic factors, technology shifts, and changing buying behavior, distributors need to pay more attention than ever to business operations and performance to maintain a relevant and sustainable business.
In other words, “business as usual” is no longer sufficient to maintain your market position, let alone grow. But creating a company that employees love requires a calculated blend of mission, culture, and management. With entrenched processes and people, motivating people to change their behavior can be particularly difficult. For example, how do you get your team to understand that and embrace the changes that are needed?
When research firm Data Freaks looked at how job characteristics interacted with positive affectivity, it found that autonomy (the extent to which employees can use their own judgments in making decisions and carrying out their work) and task identity (the extent to which a job allows someone to be involved from the beginning to the end of a project) were able to “overcome” employee disposition.
For example, when job autonomy was low, engaged employees felt 74% more ownership towards their jobs than the disengaged ones. When autonomy was high, however, the difference between the two groups shrunk to only 9%. Introducing high task identity shrunk the gap between the two groups from 45% to 11%.
“This demonstrates that simply changing the structure of a job and offering more autonomy and task identity can make a huge difference in employees’ feelings of ownership,” Robert Bullock writes in Forbes, “which can ripple throughout the organization impacting things such as employee productivity and an organization’s overall financial performance.”
Letting them Know What’s Happening
By providing transparency into what is happening in a business while also empowering all workers to see the impact of their actions on company results—and providing self-service analysis of what they can do differently—an analytics solution like MITS helps to create psychological ownership and infuse accountability into all workers.
If, for example, a sales rep sees on his own scorecard that one of his customers has a significant decline in sales of a particular product group this year as compared to last, that rep can easily drill down to get more details and bring more value to a customer conversation. Questions like “Are they no longer buying the product?” “If they are purchasing it from a competitor, why?” and “Is it possible to give a little on margin to win the business back?” can all be answered accurately and then used for good decision-making. 
Or perhaps a senior manager using an executive-level dashboard, sees that inventory turns are down. The question becomes, is this a company strategy or is inventory not being managed closely enough? He can also drill down into the firm’s warehouses and might find that the decline is due to a specific product group and set of products, and gain access to an action plan for moving these stagnant products.
All of this can be done with the goal of encouraging employees to feel like owners, which, in turn, produces behaviors relevant to their work as well as those outside of their jobs (such as being helpful to others more generally). “What is more, eliciting psychological ownership at work may not require big changes,” Gina points out.
“Though human resource management has typically used compensation schemes or employee stock ownership and option plans to promote feelings of ownership,” she concludes, “other techniques, such as increasing one’s connection to objects at work, may be equally likely to elicit a sense of ownership.”