Being engaged at work? Developing engagement among our teams and across organizations?
Engagement is certainly one of the most discussed topics in business right now.
And this is a Good Thing, right !
Benefits are huge (Service, Sales, Quality, Safety, Retention, Sales, Profit and Total Shareholder Returns among others as shown in 28 research studies that show a correlation between employee engagement and the above benefits)
For instance, the company I am working for has been measuring engagement levels (among many other attributes of an healthy organization such as recognition, collaboration, innovation, …) for several years now through an annual survey, and some progress has been made over the years. And yet, the magic recipe has not been found (if there is one, anyway!) despite the fact our employee engagement level is actually higher than the average of the industry we are operating in.
In this post, I would like to share some of the thoughts and ideas I have seen circulating recently on the web and through twitter (each title below is a link to great material I have found). The ones below resonated with me or inspired me, in one way or another. Hopefully they will resonate as well with you.
When someone is engaged, it means they are emotionally committed to their company and their work goals. They care about their work. They care about results. This makes them go above and beyond—to give discretionary effort. In fact, many full-engaged people are a little stressed at work. They aren’t necessarily walking the halls whistling a tune, and happily hanging out at the water cooler. (…)
However, research is overwhelming that we need to be engaged at work in order to be happy in all areas of our life. Because of the spill over and crossover effects, our emotions at work affect our health and relationships. Being fully engaged at work gives us a sense of purpose, of meaning, of belonging…vital human needs beyond the pay check.
“People want to know they matter and they wanted to be treated as people. That’s the new talent contract” – Pamela Stroko, Talent Management Expert & Evangelist, Oracle Corporation. Surveys are repeatedly showing that all employees – not just Millennials, but all workforce generations – want greater connection with those in charge. Connections where they can not only get feedback about their performance, of how well they are doing, but conversations through which they can see that what they do matters and that those they work for care about their ability to succeed.
In other words, your employees want the opportunity to grow, to learn, and to make a difference. It’s these moments of connection, of conversing with those you lead, which help to engender a sense of meaning and purpose within your team.
It’s becoming clearer with each passing moment that the idea that “it’s not personal, it’s just business” is a notion from a past time. (…).
In today’s knowledge economy, the new reality is that all organizations are now in the people business and as such, business is personal.”
New economy leadership requires a skilful combination of business expertise and personal rapport.
It’s no longer enough for leaders to be highly capable — they must also build meaningful and authentic bonds with employees and vigorously champion engagement initiatives because engaged employees are more productive and innovative, offer customers better service, and are less likely to leave.
Have you ever heard a co-worker utter this phrase, “Yeah, but it’s not like we’re curing cancer here?” Granted, it’s often said in an attempt to help put things in perspective, but what people fail to realize is that it also discounts the work everyone is doing. It suggests the work being done doesn’t matter. And sadly, people start to believe it. Soon after, it starts to show in the quality and outcomes of their work.
If a person does not have a purpose for why they do what they do, it is hard for them to produce meaningful work. As a manager, you can help team members define meaningful work by engaging them in strengths-based conversations.
Engagement isn’t a program or project to attempt. It is a way of operating. It is designing an atmosphere in which your organization chooses to function. It must be the DNA of your organization or it will be a faint copy of something noble and everyone will see through it. Engagement efforts done for one or more of the above reasons will actually be more destructive than no effort at all.
If you want employee engagement to work, then let your employee engagement efforts be motivated by one simple thing: You value those who help make your organization successful and you want to honor them consistently.
But dig well below the surface of generous perks and benefits that characterize SAS and you’ll discover its management team operates with uncommon philosophies, methods, and intentions.
They’ve discovered that feelings and emotions are the true drivers of employee loyalty, innovation, and productivity, and purposely have made workforce happiness one of their primary missions.
This last sentence inspired me to write on engagement, as this is so aligned with what I have discussed here.
Although the recipe is to be reinvented day after day, humbly, I feel actually very optimistic. Addressing engagement will open doors to discuss more openly the importance of emotions, human needs and purpose at work.