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Workplace Engagement – how do you get people engaged?

I’ve been following a wonderful discussion on LinkedIN about workplace engagement. The focus of the conversation has been about how to get employees engaged. Following is my synopsis and organization of that very rich dialogue. I may not have captured every contributor’s direct words, but I think I’ve covered the gist of the many perspectives, and captured the overall themes which recurred throughout the discussion. Thanks to all who have shared their thoughts and wisdom.

WHAT IS ENGAGEMENT?

Highly engaged employees:

  • Exemplify a willingness to provide discretionary effort to serve as the company’s competitive advantage
  • Voluntarily invest themselves into their work by contributing their time, energy, brain-power/thinking, emotion, etc.
  • Are committed to their organization’s goals and values
  • Are motivated to contribute to organizational success
  • Enhance their own sense of well-being by contributing to the organizational effort
  • Are willing to increase their discretionary efforts on behalf of the business entity

HOW DO YOU BUILD ENGAGEMENT?

  • Communication & Listening
    • Encourage employees to speak their minds
    • Listen to and consider their contributions
    • Make sure employees feel heard
    • Give employees a voice; their input must be heard and respected
    • Be transparent – share information about the company’s initiatives
  • Alignment/Sense of purpose
    • Get buy-in by showing them the benefits to them (WIIFM)
    • Help employees know where they fit in to the company’s overall picture
    • Create a shared vision
    • Align interests, values, shared future, commitment and action
    • Involve employees in the process so they feel ownership over what they create
    • Align company mission with personal mission and goals
    • Insist on employee contributions
    • Involve employees in both defining the problem and solving it
    • Allow employees to do something bigger than themselves and feel like they make a difference
  • Fulfillment of Emotional needs 
    • Focus on emotional needs, not logic
    • Help employees feel personally valued, supported, and acknowledged
    • Create a sense of belonging
    • Build collaboration, trust, and positive relationships
    • Develop a work environment that is safe, happy and healthy
    • Encourage peer recognition, acknowledgement, frequent & honest feedback
  • Identification of Shared Goals
    • Develop meaningful, measurable goals (for some, financial goals are effective; for others they aren’t
    • Synchronize benefits to company and to employee
    • WIIFM (What’s in it for me) should coincide with benefits to company
  • Autonomy and Growth
    • Make sure to match the right person with the right role
    • Have ownership and control over what you’re doing
    • Opportunities for growth
    • Ability to take risks without reprisals
    • Employees need to feel that what they do will impact the outcome
    • People will continue to engage if they experience progress
  • Culture and Leadership
    • Encourage employees to enjoy co-workers
    • Create safe, happy and healthy workplaces
    • Focus on good communication, employee development, recognition, rewards, frequent feedback, shared values, respect, trust and positive relationships with co-workers
    • Treat employees as assets, not costs
    • Develop a spirit of collaboration
    • Hire competent managers who treat employees with respect
    • Build collaboration
  • Motivation and Recognition
    • Interest and values should be intrinsic, but recognition is still important
    • Employees should enjoy what they’re doing
    • Celebrate victories along the way (not just at the end)
    • Recognize and reward contributions
      • through compensation
      • through acceptance
      • through new responsibilities

WHEN DOES ENGAGEMENT START?

  • Begins with recruiting:  find people who like to learn
  • Begins with on-boarding

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