What is employee engagement? This question served as the foundation for many discussions at Avatar’s event, “And Beyond,” last week in Chicago. While we often talk about methods for improving employee engagement, the first and most important step is to define the oft-heard buzzword.
So what is employee engagement? And what does an engaged employee actually look like?
Employee engagement is a strong desire to be part of the value an organization creates. It is more than simply being satisfied with one’s job. If you only have satisfied employees, you may have underperformers who are perfectly happy with their current situation and have no desire to perform at a higher level or advance in their careers. Employee engagement means an individual is personally dedicated and committed to ensuring the organization excels.
Employees often fall into one of three buckets of engagement: Actively Engaged, Partially Engaged, and Actively Disengaged.
The following characteristics will help you classify individuals at your organization:
Engaged Employees are cheerleaders for your organization. They:
- Go above and beyond, frequently doing more than what is asked of them
- Proudly represent and promote the company’s brand
- Display a strong sense of loyalty to the organization
- Derive purpose from their job content
- Voluntarily take on tasks to create better outcomes
- Act as role models, engaging and inspiring others
- Are dedicated to the mission, vision, and values of the organization
- Have awareness and personal commitment to their engagement levels
- Display self-motivation and drive to perform at a high level
- Contribute new ideas to better the organization
- Adapt to and facilitate change
Partially Engaged Employees
- Do only what is asked of them and are not inclined to do much more
- Rarely, if ever, volunteer for extra assignments or take lead roles
- Display lower energy and lackluster performance on assignments
- Can often feel unappreciated or unimportant
- Go to work primarily for the paycheck
- Are not overly excited about their current work situation
Actively Disengaged employees can be considered vampires of your organization, sucking the life out of the company. They:
- Display a negative attitude about their employer and job duties
- Focus on problems
- Display behaviors and actions that can cause more harm than good
- Are not personally invested in the success of the organization
- Consistently “badmouth” supervisors behind the managers’ backs, either in the workplace or to friends and family
- Actively seek to share their negative personal viewpoints with new and ambivalent employees
So how do you respond when asked “what is employee engagement?” Employee engagement is the employee who gets to work early because he/she is so excited about contributing to the organization’s success. It is the employee who is constantly volunteering for new and varied assignments. It is the individual who regularly contributes new and innovative ideas to help the organization succeed. It’s the person who goes above and beyond because he/she cares.
Now that you can answer the question “what is employee engagement?”, you’re better prepared to identify partially engaged employees and help support their engagement. Start by pairing them for projects with highly engaged employees. Coach them. Ask them what helps them get excited about their day.
Look around you, and you’ll see many individuals who are engaged and dedicated to ensuring success at your organization. By continuing to focus on best practices for maintaining and improving engagement, you can reduce the number of partially engaged and actively disengaged workers.
For more information on tips and techniques for improving engagement, download our free white paper, or consider joining us in Maine at our next event, scheduled for October 16, 2014.