If you want to engage your employees, take a step back and make sure you understand what employee engagement is. Then, you'll be ready to implement effective strategies.
Engage your employees by learning what engagement is, then seeking understanding.
As professionals, we can read a lot of books. We stream videos, complete formal human resource trainings, and attend conferences (like the upcoming SHRM conference) to learn more about organizational performance. As a result, we are surrounded by many organizational concepts that can be deployed in our organization to improve performance.
But how do you know if the organizational performance concept is applicable to your situation?
It’s important to see that if you implement any organizational performance concept improperly, it can hurt your culture and your organizational performance. Many change processes fail due to a lack of understanding of the concept being deployed. Sometimes, it’s the right concept, but it’s used improperly. Many of you have studied change and how to evoke change within our workforce ethically. Sometimes, we need to remember the importance of rolling out an organizational improvement process the right way. If we do it incorrectly, it could be seen as negligence or even delict of duty.
Misunderstanding employee engagement
Recently, I had the opportunity to hear about an incident related to employee engagement. An organization discussed the current level of employee engagement with the employees directly. The organization asked for the employees to do better and to help increase the engagement scores. (The current scores showed that the workforce was only 50% engaged.)
In addition, some teams were asked to reach a goal where the entire team was engaged. Although the intent was positive, there seemed to be a lack of understanding of what employee engagement really was. This put the stress of improving employee engagement on the employees, which created a tense environment.
Please take the time to understand the concept you would like to deploy. Commit to understanding how the rollout can impact the outcome.
In the concept of employee engagement, it’s the amount in which employees are willing to invest in the success of the organization “the amount in which employees are willing to invest in the success of the organization” (Hurtienne and Hurtienne, 2001).
Often employee engagement is more of an outcome of leadership and organizational culture. Yes, employees can choose to be more engaged, but they will not unless there is reason to become more engaged.
Maybe the question should have looked different.
“What can the organization do to help improve employee engagement?” Also, although it would be great to have 100% of our workforce be engaged, we also know that the average workforce in the United States is only 30% fully-engaged (Carnegie, 2018). It’s okay to set stretch goals and continue to work for improvement, but make sure it is done in a way that is achievable.
Learn engagement concepts, then engage
When it comes to organizational improvement concepts:
- Take the time to ensure that that the concept is grounded in research.
- Read case studies on how the concept was utilized in business.
- Determine the strengths and weaknesses of the concept. Become an expert with eyes wide open.
- Review to see if the concept is applicable to your organization and that the concept is appropriate for the situation.
- Explain the concept to the entire workforce.
- Create a plan to monitor the implementation and ongoing operation of the concept.
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