The Power of Employee Engagement

In our previous blog post we asked you to set the stage and lead by example when creating and communicating your goals and objectives within your organization in "Ready, Set, GOAL: Don’t forget your organization and employees when making New year’s resolutions". In doing so we suggested finding a system to check-in with your employees, to hold them accountable and to support them in the achievement of their goals, celebrating the victories, sharing the success and ultimately tying it to your overall company goals and objectives.

Today we discuss the empowering effect this has on your workforce and ask you how do you influence your teams to succeed in everything they do? What are you doing to drive employee engagement?

It is well known that the power of a group of people truly passionate about a common purpose is one of the most unstoppable forces on earth.

When our passions are ignited, we do not need to be told, prodded or coerced to bring extraordinary levels of effort to the pursuit of a goal or objective.  The drive and commitment we exhibit are fueled from a set of internal motivators.

Our motivators are what we value and what move us into action. When the things we value align with what is being rewarded in our job, we are naturally more likely to be engaged in our work.  In fact, for almost everyone, when this alignment occurs, work no longer feels like “work.”  It is instead, a source of fulfillment that contributes to our well-being.

According to a Towers Perrin ISR report[i] that included information from over 360,000 employees, companies with more highly engaged employees have 5% higher operating margins and 3% higher net profit margins.  Establishing a highly-engaged workforce doesn’t come about by making work more fun, providing some unique perks or talking about it during a monthly meeting.  Those are potential enablers of employee satisfaction – not engagement.

Employee engagement starts with identifying and placing people in roles that they find personally fulfilling and will allow them to make full use of their talents.

When this happens, people have greater energy and instead of watching a clock, they often operate in a  “zone” where time seems to collapse.  Hungarian psychologist and researcher, Mihály Csíkszentmihályi studied this phenomenon and describes it as “a mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.”[ii]

While the person / job match is a crucial first step in the engagement process, it is equally important to ensure we also:

  • Support a person’s ongoing learning and growth and skill development by not only providing training but the opportunity to take on new and challenging assignments;
  • Establish an environment that empowers people to take ownership of their jobs by encouraging involvement in decisions that affect their work and giving their ideas and opinions serious consideration;
  • Using appropriate rewards and recognition to reinforce desired behaviors and outcomes by both teams and people; and
  • Providing opportunities for advancement that are based on merit. When advancement opportunities are not available, we need to look for opportunities to enrich the person’s employment experience.  Examples of job enrichment include tapping a person to spearhead a project, participate on a cross-functional team, or lead a departmental initiative.

Everything that an organization does involving who it hires, what goals it establishes, how it communicates, how it reinforces, how it recognizes, how it rewards, and how it creates expanded opportunities, are influencers of employee engagement.



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