What ‘Employee Engagement’ Really Means (and Why you Should Care)

For some, “employee engagement” has become another throwaway term in the corporate lexicon, along with meaningless jargon such as “synergy.” It has become a vague and nebulous concept, used by some organizations to pad their company bio without really doing much to involve or empower their workforce. Organizations that really “get” and implement employee engagement understand that it takes more than the occasional team-building activity or saying “We embrace a culture of collaboration” in the company handbooks.

Real employee engagement is not a buzzword; it’s an attitude of mutual respect and practice of inclusion that infuses the organization at all times. Those companies who truly invest in employee engagement enjoy lower burnout, higher retention, and enhanced productivity. Keys to a highly engaged workforce include:

Source: http://www.public-domain-image.com/objects-public-domain-images-pictures/signs-public-domain-images-pictures/word-recessed-into-concete-cover-communication.jpg.htmlCommunication

When employees know what’s going on, they feel more included and therefore more accountable for the organization’s success. On the other hand, those left in the dark will soon become apathetic. Organizations should keep all employees in the loop on company wins, challenges, and events with regular communication. Meetings, company sponsored outings, email, newsletters, and even social media can be utilized to keep everyone “in the know” and foster an environment of openness and awareness. Remember, communication goes both ways - as leadership disseminates information, they should solicit reciprocal feedback and actually listen to the responses. Great insights can come from the boardroom and the break room.

Source: http://pixabay.com/p-405091/?no_redirectPerformance Indicators

Most employees want to do their very best, but it may not always be obvious how they can improve their job performance within their role in the organization. People also sometimes become comfortable in a routine and “plateau,” mechanically performing their duties to a satisfactory level, but without the incentive or know-how to strive for more. That’s why it’s important to have a real, measureable performance management system in place with realistic milestones and ongoing constructive feedback and coaching.

For example, a specific benchmark for educational development may be something like “complete all six training modules within the year and present what you’ve learned to the team” rather than “improve your skills in this area”. Having measureable goals to work toward and encouraging managers that coach employees to success keeps employees engaged and interested in their careers and improves the company as a whole.

Source: http://pixabay.com/p-108062/?no_redirectReward & Recognition

Once definitive goals are in place for every employee, it’s critical to recognize achievements when attained. Yes, employees presumably get a regular paycheck and some benefits, but top producers, idea champions, and innovators can be rewarded with bonuses, raises, outings, opportunities, or gifts to ensure they feel appreciated and rewarded for extraordinary output. When workers contribute to company success, they should enjoy some of the bounty of that success. Rewards don’t always have to be extravagant or expensive - sometimes it’s more the recognition of good work that keeps a talented employee motivated and invested in the company mission.

Source: iStockEmployees are People Too

Unless an organization has already surrendered to the total robot takeover, employees are human beings with feelings, interests, and families. They are not “fixed assets,” “expenses,” or “Analyst III’s.” While every worker has a responsibility to the company, they also have lives outside of work, and the lines between the two are increasingly overlapping. Most workers today have no problem working outside of regular office hours, attending to work emails while engaging in personal activities, forgoing lunch, or sacrificing personal time to finish a project. They may be on-call at all times, simply because they are dedicated to their jobs and feel they must always be available.

Given that work is creeping into people’s personal lives more than ever, it makes sense that organizations give some leeway the other direction as well. It’s about trust and flexibility - perhaps a reliable employee should have the opportunity to work from home one day a week so they can save gas on a long commute, or a working parent may benefit from flex time so they can pick their kids up from school. Even if a company can’t accommodate flexible work arrangements, other incentives such as wellness programs can help reduce burnout and keep employees happy and healthy. Just being open and attentive to employees and their needs goes a long way towards keeping them engaged.

Bottom line - engaged employees are productive employees. Engagement programs require integration into the company’s culture and sustained effort on the part of organizational leadership. Investing in employee engagement will reap rewards in loyalty, productivity, and innovation.

John Daugherty is a seasoned business executive and entrepreneur. John's areas of expertise include organizational assessment/development, team building, performance management, career transition, succession planning, and career planning. John is certified in Organization Analysis and Design Survey, DISC, and PIAV. John is a Registered Career Consultant, Certified Career Consultant, Career Management Practitioner, and Certified Life Options Retirement Coach.

Career Partners International provides top quality talent management services to organizations of all sizes. Their offices around the world help assessengagedevelop, and transition talent in any industry. To find out more about Career Partners International and how you can maximize your organizational performance, reach out to an office near you or contact us today!

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  1. Russ Knight's avatar
    Russ Knight
    | Permalink
    ...and it has to start with senior leadership. If THEY don't have a vision for their people, then any program to drive engagement (no mater how much synergy) will not be as effective.

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