Employee Engagement Is Your Job
In the recent flurry of interest about employee engagement, there’s been a sharp focus on the role of organisations in bringing about employee engagement, based on a large body of research showing the business benefits of an engaged workforce. It makes for compelling reading.
Workplace Drivers Of Employee Engagement
Researchers and practitioners have proposed an array of workplace drivers of employee engagement, including the Engage for Success movement which cites the crucial role of managers in providing a strong narrative, developing and empowering staff and role-modeling the values of the organisation; and the role of the organisation in providing opportunities for employee voice. All very sound advice. Other studies go further to list organisational practices and policies including opportunities for flexible work, diversity strategies, communication methods, pay and benefits, the physical working environment and even brand reputation.
Researchers And Practitioners Are Missing Something Important
Yes, there seems to be something missing – the role of the employee in attaining their own levels of engagement. It’s as if the employee is viewed as a passive recipient who, regardless of individual traits or behaviours, will only offer discretionary effort if the organisation ticks all these boxes on an ongoing basis.
There is no such thing as blanket engagement
I believe engagement is more individualised than this and I’m delighted to see some recent articles start to highlight differences in engagement based on staff groupings. In a recent Gallup study, for instance, managers with high talent are reported to be twice as likely to be engaged than their counterparts. This chimes with all staff surveys I’ve been involved in running, where significant differences are typically found within organisations based on a host of demographic groupings (eg grade, gender, ethnicity). There is no such thing as blanket engagement, even if all the necessary organisational conditions are favourable, and just as organisations can influence the engagement levels of different staff groups, individuals can also play a role in enhancing their engagement levels.
Encouraging Staff To Raise Their Own Engagement Levels
So I believe that alongside efforts to improve organisational aspects, we should also be encouraging staff to do what they can to raise their own engagement levels, and thereby enjoy higher levels of morale, satisfaction and wellbeing at work.
1.Really get to know your organisation. Finding out as much as possible about how your role is connected to the mission of the organisation will help you to feel connected to the bigger picture and attain a greater sense of purpose. Reading the business plan is thankfully not the only way! If your role enables you to do so, take every opportunity to reach out to others in different teams to find out what they’re involved in and how it connects to your work, get or be a mentor, work shadow a senior member of staff, consider a secondment to a different team.
2. Craft your role, manage your development, ask for regular feedback. Craft your role by using your strengths to improve the way things are done, having more meaningful interactions with people (eg by collaborating in new and different ways ), and by reframing your work eg a cleaner may redefine their role from ‘cleaning offices’ to ‘helping staff work in a more pleasant environment’. Take control of your development and seek out opportunities for continuous learning. Proactively seek feedback on your work on a regular basis.
3. Give feedback, get involved in corporate groups. Ensure your voice is heard. Take every chance to get involved in surveys, focus groups and corporate project groups.
4. Model integrity and challenge inappropriate behaviour. Live the organisational values as much as you can, and diplomatically point out to others when they fall short of expected behaviours, involving HR or line managers where necessary. If your organisation has a whistleblowing policy, familiarise yourself with it. Be clear about your organisation’s approach to inclusion and diversity.
If you’d like to have a quick chat to explore how you can develop a plan for real Employee Engagement in your organisation, click here to Talk To The Change Makers. This is a free 30 minute consultation with one of the Change Makers to plan how you can make progress in this critical area.
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