Why focus on engagement at all?
Employee engagement is talked about increasingly more these days. But firstly, what does ‘engagement’ even mean? And why are businesses focusing on it?
An engaged employee is one who is committed to giving their best each day, fulfilled in their position, contributing positively towards the wider company objectives and vision and with a sense of their own wellbeing. An engaged employee is more productive, meaning that any leader already implementing initiatives to improve engagement has cottoned on to the fact that this is the way to create a successful, thriving business.
How do we ‘do’ engagement?
Many companies are offering all sorts of benefits and competitive factors to attract the best players in their job market. However, these benefits might attract staff, but if it’s not coupled with quality leadership and great culture, then staff may become cynical and disengaged. In order to engage staff, a leader needs to be informed about human behaviour. Which includes (but is certainly not limited to) knowing what drives their employees to contribute and succeed, how to meet their needs (and educate them on how to do this for themselves), and how to build culture within the organisation.
Applying a framework
Obviously, not all staff are the same. However, there are universal patterns of thinking and behaviour that we can utilise when considering engagement. Let’s take human needs, for example. The great Tony Robbins has noted, over his long and flourishing career, that all humans have 6 core human needs. We are driven to meet these needs, and when we can meet them all, resourcefully, we will never want to leave the vehicle that allowed us to experience that fulfillment. Sounding good so far?
This is our need to feel safe, secure and comfortable.We can meet this need in a business by:
Giving clarity around company vision, mission and values, and the specific behaviours which allow the individual and business to meet these.
Providing role clarity and clear expectations around benchmarks and KPIs (confusion around roles is a contributor towards disengagement, cynicism and burnout — the antithesis of engagement)
While certainty is necessary, the flipside of this is variety, which is also a human need.
Ensuring that staff have a certain amount of autonomy. They are able to make decisions within their roles without being micromanaged and do so effectively because they are clear on the vision, values and role parameters. Again, low job control leads to burnout.
Training staff to recognise their strengths and interests, and encouraging their use of these within their role to cultivate variety.
Many companies are allowing for flexibility with working from home, or from different desks/locations within the office.
This is our need to feel respected, noticed, and acknowledged for our contribution to the company’s vision. How do we do this?
We ensure that every leader in the business understands how to acknowledge and validate their team, and know exactly how each member likes to be appreciated — because everyone has their own preference.
Time is taken frequently to check in and thank a staff member for something that upheld the values.
Giving your teams the opportunities to give 360 degree feedback to their managers, and having the managers listen and acknowledge this.
The need that couples with significance is our need for connection. We need to feel a reciprocal connection with other people. We need to have comradery in our teams, build our connection as a team of HUMANS, not just a team of employees. How do we do this?
As leaders, we ensure that we have times to come together as a team across the day, to have coffee or lunch together. To have the company picnic and chat. To create friendships.
It’s the little things… Saying hello, thank you, celebrating birthdays.
Resourceful growth is continued learning, application in our genius zone — the zone in which we are experts.
Each member has professional goals, regarding where they want to be in 3 months, 1 year, 5 years. Teaching staff to break down these goals and apply themselves in the area that will affect these goals will ensure they are experiencing growth.
Being able to practise their ‘genius zones’ — some leaders will adapt roles to ensure that staff have the opportunities to grow into their own space.
Contribution is, quite simply, our ability to contribute effectively to something bigger than ourselves, something for someone else.
Many companies are giving staff paid days to volunteer for charity. In fact, staff who volunteer together are more highly engaged than staff who do not. The Dalai Lama said that helping others is the best way to help yourself, the best way to promote your own happiness.
When a vision is compelling and in alignment with an employee’s vision or beliefs about themselves and the world, this can assist in meeting their need for contribution.
If a business can meet, or teach an employee to meet all six of these needs in a resourceful way, they will never want to leave us. Give them certainty, variety, significance, connection, growth and contribution, and they will be committed to you and your vision forever.
Leaders, I challenge you all to assess if and how you are doing this in your businesses, and help to put together these pieces for your people.
Professionals, I challenge you to all go and find how you are meeting these needs already, and the ways that you could seek to meet these needs if you are not already doing it resourcefully.