The concept of employee engagement is complex because it manifests itself through employee attitudes and behaviors. You can’t manufacture engagement, but you can foster it with clear and strong leadership, engaging managers, trust, mutual respect, and integrity.
Suppose you have two employees, Chris and Sam. Chris believes he’s paid a fair wage. He’s generally satisfied with his role and his supervisor. He does a good job at the tasks he’s assigned. Sam, on the other hand, is more than satisfied. She’s enthusiastic. She’s proud of where she works and she believes in the company’s mission, values and goals. She feels empowered to act in ways that help the company achieve success, and she’s willing to put forth extra effort to make that happen. All of this contributes to her own happiness at work, which is a strong component of her happiness in life.
Employee engagement is a step beyond employee satisfaction. Engaged employees have a positive attitude, exhibit the right behaviors and achieve better outcomes than other employees.
Engagement can be measured, and research clearly shows that companies with engaged employees outperform other companies. If you believe that your employees ultimately determine the success of your organization, employee engagement is something you want.
At the core of employee engagement are trust, fairness and sincere mutual respect between employees and an organization. However, you can’t undertake an initiative to artificially manufacture employee engagement. Instead, you must create a workplace that truly embraces the ideals that lead to engagement. Insincere efforts or those that consist of many words but no actions are usually met with skepticism and cynicism from employees.
Employee engagement requires strong and clear leadership so that employees have a keen sense and understanding of the company’s values, goals and objectives and what defines success. Engaged employees understand how their contributions directly influence the success of the organization.
Having engaged employees requires having engaged managers who truly appreciate the contributions employees make and treat them with respect. Because leaders and mangers honestly believe that the company’s success is determined by its people, employees feel a responsibility to act in a way that helps create this success. They also believe that their opinions and ideas can bring about positive change because company leaders listen to them, value their points of view and act on their suggestions.
Employee engagement relies on integrity. Employees feel empowered to act in a strong, positive way with the right attitudes because of the trust the organization places in them. They in turn trust that the company will do the right thing and follow through on its commitments to provide rewards, recognition and growth opportunities. In the end, employees and the organization achieve their goals for success, which creates an improved sense of personal well-being.