We discuss engagement a lot … all the time, actually. The word, though, is an abstraction. What does engagement look like? What do engaged employees do and say? What behaviors demonstrate engagement? How can you identify engaged employees?
Today, we’re going back to the basics to bring the abstract to action. Certainly, specifics vary, depending on the organization, even within departments of the organization. But there are some clear behaviors and actions that engaged employees demonstrate.
What are examples of employee engagement? What actions can an organization take?
Engaged Employees understand WHY.
Engaged employees have a clear sense of purpose and how their work is a key piece of the organization’s mission. They discuss performance objectives and goals with their managers. They discuss their work with peers to make sure everyone is rowing in the same direction. This is called alignment.
a. Publish organization mission and goals everywhere – on the website, posted on bulletin boards, in brochures. This messaging should reach everyone in the organization.
b. Discuss performance objectives with employees often.
c. Always keep the organization’s strategic goals and mission top of mind with the team, drawing a line between everyone’s job to these goals.
d. Meet one-on-one with employees to develop personal and professional goals.
e. Assign stretch tasks. Look for cross-department opportunities. Invest in employee training and develop your talent.
f. Take our team assessment survey to identify strengths, weaknesses, and development opportunities.
Engaged workers show up.
They get to work on time. At work, they are present, and working. They take fewer sick days because they are healthier. They work better, not necessarily longer.
a. Conduct an engagement survey.
b. Check with HR and get a clear picture of absenteeism. Absenteeism and increased sick days are a sign of disengagement. Then dig in to find out what’s happening.
c. Make sure the organization is complying with occupational health standards.
d. Ensure there are meaningful employee care benefits, making physical, financial, and mental wellness a priority.
Engaged employees ask how
. How can we do this better? How can we improve our processes? How can we attract a new market? They look at how their job specifically impacts the organization and ask how they can improve. They innovate and try new things.
a. Create a safe workplace environment where employees feel free, and excited, to share ideas.
b. Make innovation a core value.
c. Hire a diverse group of candidates to bring new perspectives and ideas to the table. Diversity leads to creativity, agility, and innovation.
d. Train employees on innovation and give them space and time to do it.
Engaged employees communicate with their peers and managers.
They talk about the job. They congratulate coworkers for ideas and actions. They feel empowered to provide candid, respectful feedback to their managers and peers.
a. Provide employees with actionable, timely feedback on processes and behaviors. Poor communication is consistently one of management’s biggest failures.
b. Respond to conflict quickly, not allowing things to fester and grow.
c. Ask for feedback, making the communication multi-directional. Use one-on-one meetings, pulse surveys, anonymous suggestion boxes, and townhall meeting-style forums to keep communication open, honest, and respectful.
d. Model recognition in all its forms. Communicate how employees have specifically improved the workplace, whether through their collaboration with others, their positive behavior, innovation with processes and more. Say, “Thank you.” Show gratitude.
Engaged employees are emotionally committed.
Engaged employees are committed to their organization, not a list of job tasks. They might stay late one day to help a coworker finish a presentation. They talk positively about work at work and outside of work. This is one of those hidden metrics of engagement, but it shows in how your employees act and interact with others.
a. Employees need rational commitment to step to emotional commitment. This means, the organization must provide an employee with financial, developmental, and professional support.
b. Offer a meaningful organization mission that employees can connect and commit to.
c. Develop a culture of accountability and trust. Employees need to trust that others are giving their best as well.
d. Alignment between an employee’s job and organization goals is critical.
Employee engagement is powerful. Think Lord of the Rings. There were loads of different factions with one shared goal. (Yes. We all know Sam should’ve just carried the ring that last few hundred yards, but we’ll let that slide.)
Certainly, the stakes aren’t this high, but considering your organization is the livelihood of many, don’t underestimate the need to make engagement a strategic priority. Success depends on emotional commitment, communication, a shared purpose, and showing up to get the job done.
Be on the lookout for engagement (or disengagement). It shows up in everything.