Employee Engagement - “Do or do not. There is no try” - Yoda


Engagement – as defined by Merriam-Webster

: an arrangement to meet or be present at a specified time and place
: a job or period of employment especially as a performer
: something that engages : pledge
: the act of engaging 
: the state of being engaged
: emotional involvement or commitment
: the state of being in gear
: a hostile encounter between military forces


3 Simple Do's and Don'ts of Employee Engagement

Do Not wait to assess your employee engagement once a year.

If you’re waiting for the annual engagement survey to hear what your employees think about working for your organization or to learn how they really feel about the work they do, then you might be setting yourself up for more of the ‘hostile encounter’ definition than the ‘emotional involvement or commitment.’ Organizations that treat engagement as something to be measured once a year often find that their employees have a whole lot to say when survey time rolls around. If there is pent up frustration and venting to be done it will certainly be reflected in your survey results. While it is good to have this feedback, even annually, the organization will be responding reactively to opportunities that may have been present for some time throughout the year negatively impacting morale, retention, productivity, etc.

Do provide opportunities for employees to share feedback throughout the year.

Your employees are doing the work, producing what you produce, serving your customers, fielding complaints, receiving high-fives and all of the other things that make up your business. They know what’s going on out there; they know what is working and what is not. Engage them in various ways throughout the year by giving them the opportunity to share what they see, hear and feel is happening in your business, as well as, the successes and challenges they may be experiencing in the workplace. This can be done through a variety of effective and meaningful ways. A few suggestions for connecting with larger groups of employees are for you to hold employee town hall meetings, conduct quick pulse surveys or regularly scheduled department meetings. For a more individualized approach you can implement leadership rounding, quarterly employee check-ins or lunches with leaders. Any of these ideas can be meaningful if there is 2-way communication in which the employees feel valued and heard. As an added bonus you’ll likely end up with some pretty great suggestions for improvements or even (gasp!) proactive ideas for further improving engagement and operational efficiencies.

Do Not do nothing (double negative = DO SOMETHING).

Be warned! The only thing worse than not asking your employees for their thoughts, ideas and opinions is to ask them and do nothing with the precious information they share. Asking for and gathering feedback, reporting results and doing nothing with the information is a recipe for progressive employee DIS-engagement. Do not survey unless you are ready to act!

Do follow up.

Follow up on the good, the bad and the ugly. Share the results…all of them. Dismissing poor results or crafting a long list of excuses for why the results are not what you expected will indicate to your employees that you really didn’t care to hear the truth from them and that sharing honest feedback was a waste of time. When this happens, the organization loses credibility with it’s employees and valuable information that would help to improve things that will ultimately have a direct impact on the success of the business. Be sure to share the positive results too. You may even want to celebrate what’s going well and commit to continuing those things that drive employee engagement and satisfaction.

Do Not confuse happiness with engagement.

Sometimes leaders will strive to have happy employees and focus on those things that they believe will make them ‘happy’ in the workplace. While this is a nice goal to have; happiness is an emotion and a feeling. A feeling that is heavily dependent upon circumstances, emotional state, internal beliefs, values, triggers and a slew of other factors far beyond the control of a leader. There are some things that may trigger the feeling of happiness like a bonus, donuts in the break room, free lunch, etc. but no matter what you do, you can’t (and won’t) make everyone ‘happy.’ However, the feeling of happiness may be a nice byproduct of employees engaged in meaningful work with an organization that they believe in and feel connected to.

Do BE ENGAGING.

The definition of engaging is “to draw favorable attention or interest.” If you want engaged employees, give them something to be engaged in, ‘emotionally involved and committed to’…like your mission. Connect your employees to your mission. Show them how the work they engage in serves the greater purpose and ultimately the mission of the organization no matter the title they hold. Do not assume that they know how important their role is and how impactful the work they do is on those around them, as well as, people beyond the walls of your organization that they may never meet. Be engaging by sharing the ‘why’ and invite them to step into the bigger picture and connect the dots between their individual contributions and the greater mission. Connecting work to something meaningful and greater than the task at hand is the difference between compliant employees and inspired teams. And inspiration is infinitely more powerful!

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