023 – Leveraging Engagement (Not Satisfaction) to Improve Your Workforce | Toni Richins

Toni Richins is the co-founder and CEO of HRtisan Solutions. During her extensive career, she’s accumulated more than 20 years of experience facilitating profitability through the development and management of human resources operations. Her expertise in building and leading high-performing HR and operations teams ranges from organizational restructuring to startups to large-scale pre and post-merger integrations.

Toni lives and breaths workplace culture, emphasizing the importance of communication and feedback. She believes in doing more than just recognizing the efforts of employees: it’s crucial to frequently ask upon employees for their input to improve internal processes and foster emotional buy-in to the organization’s holistic goals.

The single most potent path to employee motivation is the relationship with their managers and management in general, she says. This relationship is founded upon communication and mutual respect. She attributes job stimulation as another powerful motivation tool – employees need to know their options and where they can go next. These empowering workplace dynamics breed organizational pride and stimulus.

Truth You Can Act On:

  1. Don’t Confuse Engagement with Satisfaction: Employee engagement and employee satisfaction are not the same. Ensure that you understand the difference to get an accurate read on engagement levels of your leaders and team members. You must learn to measure the right things.
  2. Lend Your Ear(s): One of the simplest ways to gain buy-in from an employee is to listen. Be as intentional as possible in developing your listening skills as a leader. Practice less talking and do more listening this week.
  3. Embrace Challenges: One of the keys to engagement is whether or not an employee feels challenged in their work, to have a position where they’re growing. Equip your managers to have real conversations with team members to understand the level of challenge they are feeling with the work they are doing.
  4. Reassess Your Cultural Norms: Culture is a collection of behavioral practices of the organization, both stated and unstated. Are there unintentional harmful norms that are happening in your organization and need to be discussed? Appoint a group of people to keep a collective eye and report regularly, so these norms don’t continue within your workplace.

Nikki’s Book Recommendation:


  • Emplify – Are you still using pulse surveys? How about annual questionnaires? If your organization relies on either of these, it’s time to discover Emplify. Emplify has created a new way to measure employee engagement. It’s where CEOs who want to know what’s really happening within a workforce go… to get honest feedback… and to understand what needs to change for people to love their work using simple and trustworthy data. 
  • Purple Ink – Purple Ink’s customized HR services will help you make your workspace JoyPowered. Whether you’re looking for help with recruiting, compliance, or leadership training, they listen to what you need and tailor their solutions to you. And look for The JoyPowered Workspace Podcast wherever you listen to podcasts!

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