Employee engagement

by Hayley Oats and Vandy Massey

What is employee engagement?

This is a much-debated question, but in essence a sense of engagement is something that the employee has to offer. In other words, it’s not something you can require as part of the employment contract.

It is not simply motivation, but discretionary behaviour. Engaged employees freely choose to act in ways that help their organisations, as opposed to behaving in an apathetic manner. They feel personally involved in the organisation, knowing that their efforts have a positive impact and that they are appreciated and valued as individuals.

The common behaviours of an engaged employee are:

  • Commitment to
  • Achieving organisational goals
  • Delivering the best service
  • Maximising their impact in the workplace
  • The team
  • Going the extra mile when required
  • Personal development
  • Willingness to
  • Be open and honest
  • Communicate
  • Take part
  • Give feedback
  • Try new ideas
  • Get involved
  • Being an organisational citizen –
  • Honest belief in the organisation
  • Supporting the team.

Summarised, employee engagement is a set of desirable positive behaviours that are displayed by employees. These behaviours impact in a positive manner on colleagues, customers and the organisation, with everyone getting the results that matter to them.

The critical elements

From the above, it will be clear that there are certain key elements involved in that desirable sense of engagement:

  • Communication – employees have an opportunity to share their views and be heard and are kept up to date on organisation performance and news
  • Employees believe that managers are committed to the organisation and, equally important, to them as individuals
  • Employees feel able to contribute to decisions and have devolved authority to make appropriate decisions
  • Employees have opportunities to develop
  • They feel the organisation cares about the health and well being of staff.

What it’s not about!

Before you embark on a scheme to engage your team, there are some points to bear in mind.

  • Employee engagement is not about driving employees to work harder! It’s about providing the conditions under which they can and will work more effectively.
  • It’s not about paying them more! Money is not the sole motivator or requirement for employee engagement. A well-paid but unengaged employee is likely to have no problems looking for another job!
  • Nor is it about telling people to be excited about their job and enjoy themselves! Telling people how they should be, never engages them with being that way. Remember that the petulant teenager still resides in us all!
  • And it’s certainly not about playing games all day, spending lots of money on staff activities and never doing any work!

It’s about finding the balance and providing choices for staff.