Engaged is the New Black

Practical Tips to Create Engaging Work Environments for Employees

Sometimes things feel a little bit too much like a fad, a runway of ideas that pour through the business world, breeze by, and leave us in a cloud of trendy words and intangible ideas. Get engaged! Engaged employees make for success! The problem is finding practical ways to implement these ideas. They sound really good. But how does it work? Honestly, most of us will not wear the avant-guard runway getup when a nice pair of jeans will do.

The purpose of this blog is to provide practical, implementable ideas and explanations for the buzz words out there in the business world. And, believe us, employee engagement is not a trend. Engaged employees are more productive, keep turnover to a minimum, and are critical to an organization’s success. Dr. Christine Maslach and Dr. Michael Leiter co-authored the book The Truth About Burnout: How Organizations Cause Personal Stress and What to Do About It. To work to build an engaging environment, an organization should be aware of the biggest causes of disengagement. Maslach and Leiter found that the biggest disengagement factors are:

  • An uneven distribution of work among employees. An “unfair” work environment.
  • Work overload.
  • No sense of autonomy.
  • No sense of community in the organization.
  • Unclear organizational goals – employees feel “adrift.”
  • No recognition for work done. (Lack of feedback).
So, creating an engaging work environment takes a lot of work. It is essential for companies to take a serious look at how things are managed on every level to see if they are doing everything they can to create a healthy work environment that aligns with the organization’s goals as well as employee’s goals. It may feel overwhelming, but it is essential. There are no fads and quick-fixes here. It takes dedication and determination. Engagement is very real, and there are some practical ways to create a work environment that fosters engagement.

  1. Create a sustainable workload for employees. Be reasonable. Be fair. Quality trumps quantity. Maslach and Leiter recommend having employees list every activity they do and rate them in importance to the company, quality of work while analyzing how much time is spent on the tasks. Determine what is important, what is working, what isn't, and cut away the fat.
  2. Employees need to feel involved. Not everything has to be top-down management. When employees have a voice while making decisions or developing a project, they are more apt to feel valued, as they should.
  3. Creating a community in the workplace. The foundation for community in any organization is communication that goes beyond a suggestion box and the occasional bulletin board memo. Managers need to create spaces in which employees can interact, talk, and relax with them and with one another. Managers must give continuous feedback to employees, not just rely on a yearly appraisal. Community is not simply an annual barbecue. That is one aspect of community building, but community values are lived daily in an organization.
  4. Respect, respect, respect. Respect company policies. Respect individuals. Respect teamwork. Respect employees’ time. Respect ethnic, religious, and cultural differences. The key to creating an environment of employee engagement is having respect as a pillar of the organization’s mindset.

In his book, Dr. Leiter says organizations need to “work smart.” Creating an environment that fosters employee engagement is not trendy or a passing fad. It is critical for organizations to evaluate themselves, their goals, their values and the employees that work there to rebuild and flourish. Because, from what we’ve heard, success is definitely the new black!

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