Engagement vs productivity – the difference between them and why you need both

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“Activity” is a common word used by the dozens of sales-based decision makers we speak to every month. Phrases like “I want to motivate my sales team to do more activity” are not uncommon. Where things get a bit fuzzy is when the term “engagement” comes into the mix.

What is engagement?

Engagement can mean a number of things, but in this context we’re referring to employee engagement. In a nutshell, employee engagement is the extent to which employees feel passionate about their jobs, are committed to the organisation, and put discretionary effort into their work. It isn’t the same as employee satisfaction – that’s an indicator for job happiness, not job motivation.
Productivity, on the other hand, is a measure of how efficient an employee or team member is. Productive salespeople put in more activity and close more business, boosting the company’s bottom line.

Why you need both

One without the other can be indicative of short term (and possibly) long term issues.

Engaged employees with low productivity either don’t have the training required to be efficient or are motivated by the company but not the role. Productive employees with low engagement are likely going to damage your culture or cost you a significant amount when they (inevitably) leave.

Many sales leaders focus on productivity when they say things like “my team need to hit the phones and we’ll see deals coming out the other end”. Engagement applies to every element of the job: how passionate about the product they are, whether they’re willing to go the extra mile, how they interact with customers etc. Productivity will inevitably suffer if the individual or team in question isn’t engaged with their work. On the flip side, a 2013 Harvard Business Review report that analysed 1.4m employees revealed that highly engaged teams enjoyed 22% higher productivity.

It comes as no surprise that in the same year, increasing employee engagement was a big focus for a range of businesses.

How you can positively impact productivity and engagement

Getting salespeople engaged with their work can be a tough task, but there are things we’ve seen work across a number of our clients.

Constantly communicating team achievement and progress is a huge motivator for helping salespeople see beyond more than just their own performance. This tends to take the form of public leaderboards and team competitions (ideally in real-time) but in absence of those, a leaderboard can do the trick for a while.

Celebrating achievements is another fantastic method for helping salespeople to feel recognised and their activity encouraged. Some teams opt to do a deal breakdown every Friday as a team, others use tools like OneUp’s triggers system to celebrate key activities as and when they happen.

Finally, giving individuals the power to be autonomous can do wonders for engagement and motivation. Showing you trust them to choose what activities they should be doing and when appeals to a key human motivator although requires accountability on both sides. Giving salespeople the ability to track their own performance through OneUp’s dashboards at any time instead of having to send infrequent reports to them can save you time and empower them to do better work.

There’s a reason businesses with higher employee engagement see greater activity numbers. It’s no longer a question of “can we improve employee engagement”, it’s a question of “when should we start improving it”? The answer is now.