Making it work

Five keys to employee engagement

By Gerald McGroarty,

Comments (2)

Good employee engagementConfucius once said, “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.” He may have been onto something, but in this world of restructuring, reengineering and redundancy, not all of us are in a position to choose a job we love.

That doesn’t mean we can’t keep searching, but the reality is we’re often glad just to have a job, never mind love it.

So how does an organization, knowing full well not all its employees are going to love their jobs, keep them involved, interested and performing at an optimum level?

Here’s what they shouldn’t do: Keep them satisfied. That’s right. Keeping employees satisfied can be a recipe for disaster. Satisfaction in the working world is just another way to say contentment – and contentment can lead to inertia.

The difference between being satisfied and being engaged

What organizations should be striving for is an employee base that is engaged. Trust me, there is a big difference between satisfied employees and engaged employees. You can have some very satisfied and contented employees who have no problem coming to work, playing solitaire, surfing the net, doing the bare minimum and collecting a pay cheque. Sure, they’re satisfied — but is that really what you want?

Engaged employees are a different animal. They go above and beyond their jobs’ roles and responsibilities, they’re focused on achievement and they have an emotional attachment and commitment to the goals and objectives of their company or business unit that supersedes the traditional “compensation for services provided” model.

Organizations are trying harder than ever before to create and maintain employee engagement. Many companies start with an employee engagement survey. After mining the data they put in place multiple initiatives to create and maintain a level of commitment that’s a win-win for both parties.

Make no mistake: Employee engagement is a two-way street. For an organization and its employees to walk down that road together, there must be common elements that make it work for both parties.

So whether you’re leading a team or you’re sitting at your desk wondering why you’re not as committed as some of your co-workers, here are five keys to building a solid foundation of engagement in the workplace:

1. Core values

When people are aligned in what they value, standing together and moving forward happens at a much faster clip. What a company stands for is critical in employee engagement. What a person stands for is just as important. If those two worlds collide, you get a disconnect that’s often tough to align.

2. Vision

When people work in an environment with purpose and meaning, great things can happen. Organizations that clearly articulate their goals, objectives and expectations to their employees stand the best chance of increasing engagement. Creating a roadmap that provides direction will get everyone from point A to point B with the fewest roadblocks.

3. Opportunity

When people work in a culture of learning and growth, life becomes more fulfilling and the organization can realize its potential.One of life’s great motivators is opportunity. But if the drive isn’t there in the form of challenges, promotion and personal and organizational improvement, then count on the road to success being a bumpy one.

4. Communication

When people can be open and honest it builds trust. Trust builds loyalty and loyalty is one of the keys to an inspired working environment. Strong communication is a hallmark of high-performing and highly engaged teams. But it takes everyone in the organization to shoulder the responsibility to be open, giving and honest in exchanging information.

5. Respect

When people give respect they get respect. The more you give the more you get. And the best part is, it’s free. At the end of the day everyone wants respect. Whether it’s respecting others’ opinions and differences or being inclusive and accommodating toward your co-workers, respect is a pillar in building engagement.

When you consider the amount of time we spend at work, doesn’t it make sense to make the most of it? We are the only species on earth that imposes boundaries and limits on our potential. A tree does everything in its power to grow. Animals don’t sit around saying, “Hey, I’m going to be lazy today — who’s up for take-out?” As humans we make choices that affect our potential, and far too often we decide to let outside forces dictate our future.

If you work in an organization where people are engaged, I’m happy for you. If you don’t, take the time to reflect on what you can do to increase engagement. Admittedly, it takes more than one person to make your team engaged. But make today the day you do your part to make things happen.

The best place to start is with the five keys above and there’s no one in a better position to effect change than you.

More tips for a brighter working life:

Working well More bright ideas for managing your career and making the most of your benefits.

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thebigpicturecamille on

Thanks for a great article and for defining the difference between employee engagement and employee satisfaction. What’s more important is for companies to define their employer brand – that spells out what the company offers employees in exchange for their performance and effort. Once employees understand this, it increases the chances that they will be engaged. The five elements listed in your post – values, vision, opportunity, communication and respect – are fundamental elements of a well-defined employer brand. Walking the talk is even more important! My blog on employee engagement may be of interest – Thanks again for a great post!

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