Employee Engagement

I recently read a report that talked about Employee Engagement. It provided a standard definition of Employee Engagement that I thought was very good.

“Employee Engagement involves a workplace in which workers:

  • Feel personally and emotionally bound to the organization
  • Feel pride in recommending it as a good place to work to other people
  • Get more than just wage or salary from working there and are attached to the intrinsic rewards they gain from being with the organization and
  • Feel a close attachment to the values, ethics, and actions embodied by the organization.”

I think this is a very good statement of about what Employee Engagement is. My concern and reason for writing this blog post are the recommendations on how to create highly engaged employees. The article does correctly state that one of the main causes for employees to become disengaged is that they see leaders stating one thing and doing others. This aspect of not walking the talk I believe is one of the main factors in employees becoming disengaged.

Employee to Employee Engagement

The article did provide an excellent distinction between engagement between employees and from employee to employer. I believe these are two fundamentally different concerns and do need to be addressed differently.

For example, it proposes an individual is engaged with co-workers when they demonstrate these behaviours:

  • Ask questions about the person each day to show that he or she cares
  • Listen for feelings as well as facts – and follow-up to show a willingness to help
  • Invite co-workers out for social occasions
  • Work for the inclusiveness of everyone rather than encouraging “cliques”
  • Stress the positive
  • Refuse to listen to self-deprecation and focus on what a new hire or other works do right
  • Refuse to pass bad gossip on to others

While some are somewhat questionable, I think the list is a pretty good list of the behaviors that good teammates will display.

Manager to Employee Engagement

Where I feel the article gets interesting is how they suggest Managers will create the right climate of engagement, which are:

  • Recruit and select people in part based on their track record of engagement with past employers
  • Ask questions about what people feel about the organization, work, customers, and other keys issues, and then take steps to remove barriers to results
  • Focus on identifying individual strengths and leveraging those to the advantage of the individual, team, and organization
  • Recognize achievement rather than envying it or trying to steal the credit for it
  • Develop people for engagement as well as for knowledge and skills
  • Provide encouragement when people seem to be unhappy or disappointed.

Here is where I feel they limit the engagement model by thinking in more ‘traditional’ or hierarchical ways. You can build Employee Engagement by not taking credit for other people’s ideas? Really. This had to be stated?

Levels of Employee Engagement

I believe there are four levels of Employee Engagement:

Level 0 – I am treated fairly and compensated fairly. My current engagements are clear and aligned with my desires. – I am Individually engaged currently

Level 1 – I am growing and the company is committed to my growth. My future engagements are clear and in alignment with my career goals. – I am Individually engaged in the future

Level 2 – I am valued and people seek out my opinion. – I am Operationally Engaged

Level 3 – I am part of something larger than myself and I help to determine Corporate Plans and Strategies. – I am Strategically Engaged

Summary

When reviewing the suggested actions provided for Managers above, I still feel they are expecting Employee Engagement and all the benefits that provides without actively moving to level 2 or level 3 of Employee Engagement. True Employee Engagement comes when the employees feel they are the company and the company is them. This happens when then can be involved in how the company is operating or planning to operate.

I would suggest that a company can’t have full Employee Engagement if the company isn’t willing to engage operationally and/or strategically with employees. If there is a wall of communication that happens between high level managers and employees, engagement will always be a struggle.To facilitate high levels of Employee Engagement, many companies will probable need to fundamentally change how they are structured.

High levels of engagement can’t happen just by doing level 0 activities like recognizing achievements and not stealing ideas. Those just prevent people from leaving.

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