Employee Engagement Opportunities make engagement happen. It helps to know what you want to happen. Every expert has a definition for “employee engagement.” Too often those definitions lack substance, measurable actions, and specific behaviors. I offer this and invite your responses:
Employee Engagement: the individual’s investment of her/his time, energy, skills, knowledge, and creativity in the efforts and directions set by the organization.
The idea that perks, rewards, and prizes motivate employees to engage is partially true. They provide temporary motivation. The missing phrase is “until the reward is earned or taken away”. Then the mindset becomes, “Let’s cool it until the next incentive appears.” Monthly perks, quarterly incentives, catalogued awards have some motivational value. However, the “On then Off then On then Off” strategy contradicts the truth of inertia. Like a body in motion, Employee Engagement prefers to stay in motion. Starting and stopping and starting and stopping an objective or strategy defeats its momentum. For an Employee Engagement strategy, it that costs time, energy, and funding.
Melissa Dawn Photiades makes clear that there’s more to engagement than waving a carrot in front of the employee: “Effective engagement efforts aren’t perks thrown at the workforce dartboard in hopes of hitting a bull’s eye.”et becomes, “Let’s cool it until the next incentive appears.” Monthly perks, quarterly incentives, catalogued awards have some motivational value. However, the “On then Off then On then Off” strategy contradicts the truth of inertia. Like a body in motion, Employee Engagement prefers to stay in motion. Starting and stopping and starting and stopping an objective or strategy defeats its momentum. For an Employee Engagement strategy, it that costs time, energy, and funding.
Gaining any employee’s investment of time, energy, skills, knowledge and creativity does require offering something. In general terms that offering is the business culture, the workplace environment, or the inspiring atmosphere that makes the employee want to engage.
But general terms don’t get you very far or your employees very engaged.
Rather than perks and incentives, employees want and deserve opportunities to engage. They want opportunities to stretch their at-work muscles. That muscle-stretching shows itself as extra time put in to complete a project. It looks like putting forth energy to understand what the customer truly wants. It has the sweet sounding hum of a team working as a unit to refine a process improvement. It shines like the Aha! lightbulb when the right answer is learned and the problem is solved.
The workplace — the organization — wants opportunities that light up employees’ desire to contribute to the organization’s success. These opportunities may relate directly to one’s work. They may support personal and social interests of the individual. The opportunities sharpen and strengthen appreciation for the company because the company offers the opportunities. Aren’t people more eager to invest time, energy, skills, knowledge and creativity in a company they appreciate?
So, take a look at these 3 opportunities. Read them merely as potential for your business. By customizing a good idea to fit your culture and your employees, you create a great idea.
Employee Engagement Opportunity 1: Career Development.
Structured and strategic attention to career development serve an organization well. Of all the good a strong career development program brings, Employee Engagement is the biggest plus. Provide employees the full array of skills — basic, technical, supervisory, and leadership — and the organization increases its retention of employees. As well, it increases the employee’s attention to her work as she links what she learns to what she does. That increased attention is engagement.
Employee Engagement Opportunity 2: Community Involvement.
Well-structured (and well publicized internally) volunteer programs positively impact the company’s Employee Engagement. As employees identify with the values-commitment of the company, their eagerness to engage increases. Additionally, volunteer programs provide hands on leadership development opportunities, and leadership is an obvious engagement. To be a true opportunity, the company’s volunteer program must be well planned and well publicized. It must offer a variety of volunteer opportunities to satisfy the breadth of employee interests and values. It must be structured so that it is value-added to one’s work, rather than more work added to one’s work.
Employee Engagement Opportunity 3: Culture Evaluation.
An organization’s culture is the philosophy, values, behaviors, expectations and requirements that altogether constitute the company’s style and policies. In other words, its personality. Culture may start at the top but its total development comes from the total company. Appreciation of the business culture directly impacts an employee’s eagerness to engage in her work and her company. Consequently, the more opportunities employees have to look at, think of, and talk about the elements of the company, the more culture ownership they will feel. Heather Huhman provides extensive lists of questions to ask about the corporate culture. The only nit I pick is that she leaves the questioning to managers. Let employees ask and answer to escalate their engagement.
Perks and incentives and rewards make employees happy. For a moment. Opportunities can build employee appreciation for the business and the culture and the workplace it offers. That appreciation makes employees want to engage. Engagement makes employees content. For a continuous time.
(About the Author: As an Employee Engagement and Performance Improvement expert, Tim Wright, has worked with businesses and national associations of all sizes. His company, Wright Results, offers proven strategies and techniques to help businesses increase employee engagement, improve personnel performance and build a strong business culture by focusing on performance management from the C.O.R.E. For more information, visit www.wrightresults.com or connect with Tim here: firstname.lastname@example.org)
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