Engaging Employees in Engagement

By now we have all heard about employee engagement, the emotional connection an individual has to the organization, related to their level of loyalty and their willingness to go above and beyond what is expected of them. We know that organizations want a highly engaged workforce and we know the many reasons that we want it. Engagement research shows time and time again the relationship between a highly engaged workforce and company profitability, growth, and customer satisfaction, just to name a few.

Over time, our research has also identified several key drivers of engagement that help us understand engagement and how to create an environment in which it can thrive. These drivers address an employee’s sense of value, recognition, potential growth, and faith in leadership. With an understanding of why engagement matters and insights into the keys that unlock this connection, many organizations have an increasing focus on driving employee engagement to increase organizational effectiveness.

In my work with organizations that seek to measure and improve their employees’ levels of engagement, I spend a significant amount of time helping to interpret their employee survey results and guide them in taking actions with the greatest potential for achieving their goals. Sharing these results and action plans with employees is another key step in the process s. It is through these more frequent interactions with employees that I’ve recently realized an aspect of employee engagement that can and should receive more focus, time, and attention – getting employees more engaged with engagement.

Routinely we work with organizational leaders and HR teams to assess and drive engagement. I’ve realized recently that often our approach in driving engagement tends to be fairly one-sided. Leaders ask, “How do we improve engagement?” and “What steps can we take to increase the number of highly engaged employees?” Less frequently, if at all, do we spend time exploring what role employees play in increasing their own engagement. By definition, it is their emotional connection, their sense of value, their commitment and buy-in that drive engagement. There is much that organizations can and should do to create an engaging environment, but what can employees do?

Recently an employee asked me, “What can I do to improve engagement?” My response to her was that employees can ask themselves what they believe their current engagement level to be, how they rated key survey items related to engagement, and what they can do to positively impact their experience in these areas. For example, if their supervisor is not providing regular feedback or career guidance, perhaps they can proactively solicit it. While leaders within the organization have ownership of creating an engaging work environment, employees can also be empowered to participate in creating a rewarding work experience.

Which brings me to my final thought on this topic, how we communicate with employees about engagement. After leading many employee meetings to share survey results, I found that the tone and message of those discussions tend to have the same approach as the feedback we share with organizational leadership, that same one-sided perspective. While the data doesn’t change, making it meaningful and impactful may require a different approach. Employees should hear why high levels of engagement are the most desired outcome for them as well as for the organization. Highly engaged employees benefit the organization in many tangible ways. Let’s highlight to employees why being highly engaged benefits them, too. Highly-engaged employees give more because they get more from the experience. Their passion and commitment are driven by a highly rewarding experience. When we talk about engagement with employees, let’s focus on why the organization wants them to get the most out of their work experiences, to find their job highly fulfilling because it benefits each of them as well as the business, demonstrating that the organization cares about them in this process too. Let’s get employees more engaged in engagement.

by Suzanne D. Logan
Vice President, HumanR, Inc.

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