The focus on employee engagement has grown geometrically over the past five years, but many organizations still don't know how to approach this challenge.
We have witnessed this rise in the work of the Engage For Success movement to increase engagement across the entire UK and in the plethora of daily articles, blog posts, tweets and updates on the topic.
We have demonstrated employee engagement makes a difference for financial results and individual well being. Now we must work at improving employee engagement for the benefit of all.
I have devoted my work over the past 10 years to employee engagement. I have been enthralled by the 5600 people who have joined the global Employee Engagement Network to engage in conversation, access resources and contribute to the community.
This pyramid of employee engagement is a 10-block model I created to represent a practical and tactical approach to engagement. It was inspired by evidence-based practices discovered by researchers. My motivation for creating this was the lack of capacity and guidance that many organizations, leaders and managers have for increasing employee engagement.
This is a block by block walk through the pyramid. A brief overview for each block is followed by one or two questions to develop deeper inquiry and practice with employee engagement.
We must connect employee engagement to results. These results can be financial, quality, safety, etc. If we fail to attach engagement to results we may end up with happy employees doing wonderful YouTube dances yet contributing little to achieving the organization’s strategic story.
Ask Yourself: What results do we most need to achieve? Is our engagement work aligned completely with results that matter to the organization and the employees?
Powerful engagement is specific to key performance. We want employees to know and understand the tasks that are most important for them to engage with in order to create and sustain results. Although engagement is frequently reduced to a yearly or bi-yearly score on a survey we all know that powerful engagement is about daily yet enduring and sustainable performance.
Ask Yourself: Do employees know the performances that will make a difference for the organization? Does performance management engage employees or tick them off with another disconnected and disengaging check box performance review?
Teresa Amabile and her husband Steven Kramer in "The Progress Principle" were instrumental in communicating and demonstrating that engagement is found within work rather than an extra task heaped on managers’ overburdened plates. Knowledge workers are engaged by progress and disengaged by setbacks.
Ask Yourself: How do we help our employees experience progress daily? What can we do to lessen the potential disengagement embedded within setbacks?
We are all social workers. This does not mean that we have a Master’s of Social Work degree. Rather, to a certain extent, all work has social components. This can range from collaboration for innovation to communication through internal social media channels and water cooler conversations. It might even mean having really good friends at work.
Ask Yourself: Are we doing our best to build strong and enduring relationships at work? Do we avoid sacrificing long term relationships for short term results?
Employees work every day and they should be recognized every day. Ensure that your employees know that they are seen and cared for. Don’t let anyone within your organization feel like an invisible man or woman.
Recognition is not a creepy hug or a generic pat on the back -- it is the strong communicated connection of seeing and appreciating the people we work with. New tools are giving us the opportunity for social and strategic recognition that both values people and creates value for the organization.
Ask Yourself: Who have I recognized today and how did I recognize them? Who have I failed to recognize? Why?
We only engage in the moment. Make the most of the moments at work and the bigger tasks will take care of themselves. Don’t get too far ahead of yourself and don’t get too far behind. Effective employees have strong and powerful transitions that help them both get into work and out of work. Engaging moments at work can range from powerful Touch Points to the psychology of flow.
Ask Yourself: How engaged am I in this moment? What can I do to heighten my engagement within this moment or lessen any disengagement I experience in this moment?
Anemic work does not engage. Gallup and others have demonstrated that knowing your strengths, using your strengths on a daily basis, and leveraging your strengths in the service of others will be both engaging and promote well being.
Ask Yourself: Can I list, live and leverage my strengths at work? Are we a strength based organization where people know what they are good at, engaged with what they are good at, and strengthened by working from their strengths?
When you have a “why” for work you can bear almost any work. We must strive to make work and engagement in work meaningful. Don’t assume employees inherently know how their work is meaningful. Help co-create meaning at work with conversations about purpose and greater or wider perspectives on contribution and results.
Ask Yourself: Why do you work? (Repeat the question 5 times to get to a greater or deeper why.)
The former President of the American Psychological Association, Martin Seligman, was instrumental in demonstrating how work can contribute to our well-being through positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning and achievement. Work can be draining at times but work also offers us the opportunity to flourish and enhance our well-being.
Ask Yourself: Are we designing work to help people exit work each day with a greater sense of well-being? How does engagement at work help employees flourish both inside and outside of work?
Energy is the raw material of engagement. Ultimately we strive to have work be an energy gain rather than an energy drain in the long term. It takes energy to engage but evidence from Loehr and Schwartz indicates that full engagement at work also contributes to our energy. Engagement transforms energy into a renewable resource at work.
Ask Yourself: What gives you energy, what takes it away, and what for you is a waste of time? (I adopted this question from Donald Graves’ year long quest to examine The Energy to Teach.)
A pyramid of employee engagement is not built in one day. I encourage you to take three of the 10 blocks and create a three-block mini pyramid of employee engagement to build and enhance engagement for yourself and the people you work with during the month of March. Engage along with me, the best is yet to be.
Editor's Note: This is the first in our month long look into employee engagement. To read more about this challenge, check out Luis Suarez's Social Business in 2013: A Challenge, An Opportunity, A Commitment