If you attended yesterday's #SocBizChat about employee engagement, you know it was a lively event. There was much debate about what employee engagement is, what it entails, what makes it work, how to measure it and what can keep it from flourishing.

For some, defining it was easy, almost obvious; others were challenged to turn employee engagement into something tangible. Let's take a closer look at developed during the hour-long chat.

One of the signs of a successful Twitter chat is the amount of spam that shows up in the feed -- and boy did they! For your convenience, we removed the questionable content that flooded the stream.

What Is Employee Engagement?

There were many interesting and insightful definitions of employee engagement. Most of the definitions however, mentioned intangible characteristics that describe an employee who could be considered engaged. They are passionate, connected, empowered, involved, motivated, enthusiastic, present and excited. At the most basic level, engaged employees have a significant intrinsic motivation. They aren't after fame and fortune in its purest form. Rather, they want to contribute to something important. Being engaged is about being human, real and authentic.

While it's very interesting to understand the intrinsic drivers of the engaged employee, if you're a company that seriously wants to inspire more engagement at work, these definitions don't simplify the process. How do you measure whether or not someone is passionate or excited about something? For the most part, defining employee engagement is like pornography -- you know it when you see it.

Why We Need Engaged Employees

While it may be difficulty to agree on the specific characteristics of an engaged employee, no one will deny that engaged employees are needed. You can argue that not all jobs require or need you to be engaged at every level. Sometimes a widget maker is just a widget maker. Yet, even widget makers want to feel as if they are contributing to something significant. Additionally, companies have a responsibility to ensure that their widget makers are happy enough so they don't leave -- not because they have a need to please, but because happy widget makers mean less attrition, which means fewer costs.

But, engaged employees mean more than just fewer turnovers -- it's about spearheading innovation, building community and creating effective collaboration. According to the Tweet Jam participants, companies are not just about budgets and bottom lines -- it's about the people. When companies focus on people first, success follows.

What's the ROI

If you invest in the "right" people, what do you get out of it? What's the ROI of engaged employees? Again, the answers given are a thoughtful mix of tangible and intangible outcomes. The engaged employee will have better relationships with customers, stay in their jobs longer, increase company profits, take fewer sick days and perform better.

Again, if you're a company looking for specific things to look for in exchange of promoting employee engagement, it's not clear cut. But, ultimately, as Jacob Morgan says "every organization always has it's own "special something" that you can't describe or define, but we all know it's there."

The Tools of Employee Engagement

Everyone agreed that tools can help, but tools are not the starting point. In other words, you can have the best tools, but if they are not the right fit for your employees, they won't help. In fact, they'll hurt. But, if you know how your employees work best, or what they need, by all means, give them the tools to work smarter, better, faster.

Additionally, tools can provide companies with information about how people are working. Look to the metrics that show what's being accomplished. If tools aren't being used, you may not have disengaged employees, rather, you may have the wrong platform implemented to facilitate better engagement.

We have Allison Maguire to thank for pointing out the most important point about tools. She says, for as much time as we dedicate to choosing the right tools, just as much energy should be devoted to integrating them into the workflow. After all, adoption is the biggest barrier to social business.

To Be Continued...

That wraps up this half of the tweet jam recap. Be sure to check out part two where we tackle insights about gamification, quantifying employee engagement and the challenges of creating and sustaining employee engagement.