2 Perspectives: What It Takes to Engage Employees

Recognize This! – Defining employee engagement isn’t nearly as important as creating an environment in which employees want to engage.

I, among many others, write fairly often about employee engagement. Indeed, the importance of strategic, social employee recognition to creating a company culture in which employees would want to engage has been a primary topic for Globoforce for more than 10 years now.

During that time, more and more people – HR pros and consultants alike – have jumped on the engagement bandwagon, and with good reason. Employee engagement is far different from employee satisfaction and measures much more of real value to an organization, such as how well the employee understands the goals of the organization and how committed he or she is to giving discretionary effort to achieve those goals. Now, isn’t that much more valuable than knowing how satisfied the employee is with the coffee in the café or with the general working conditions?

If employee engagement has become almost de rigueur, why do I and so many others keep researching it and writing about it? Because it’s critical and must be kept at top of mind for those who can fundamentally impact the factors of engagement.

To that point, HR consultancy ETS recently issued a new report on engagement and what it is that makes employees want to give the discretionary effort that’s the hallmark of employee engagement – to “go the extra mile.”

“Titled Getting employees to go the extra mile, the report highlights the following as the three most significant motivators that lead to employees being more prepared to go above and beyond their job description:

  • Employee’s role – understanding what is expected in a given role and how this supports business goals
  • Leadership – employees believing in leaders
  • Communication – employees feeling free to communicate upwards within the company”

In a similar vein, SCInc, a learning and development consulting company, wrote about the importance of alignment in employee engagement, a topic I’ve discussed before. SCInc’s point is that true engagement is only achieved when employees can answer “yes” to both of these questions:

  1. “I like my work and I do it well.” (maximum satisfaction)
  2. “I help achieve the goals of my company.” (maximum contribute)

“Engagement happens when the job tasks assigned to an employee are aligned to the department, team or organizational goals, and at the same time tap into an employee’s natural talent, proficiency and passion.”

What both studies point to is the simplicity and the complexity of true employee engagement – employees know what you need them to do, why you need them to do, and they want to get it done.

What’s your preferred definition of employee engagement?

Derek Irvine

About Derek Irvine

The VP of Client Strategy and Consulting at Globoforce, Derek Irvine is one of the world’s foremost experts on employee recognition and engagement, helping business leaders set a higher vision and ambition for their organizations. As a renowned speaker and co-author of "The Power of Thanks" and "Winning with a Culture of Recognition," he teaches companies how to use recognition to proactively manage company culture. Derek holds a B.Comm and Masters of Business Studies from the Smurfit Graduate Business School at University College Dublin.

3 Responses

  1. […] that kind of workplace environment – on in which employees will naturally want to engage, I argue – is reliant on managers taking on the true leadership role inherent in their position. […]

  2. […] that kind of workplace environment – one in which employees will naturally want to engage, I argue – is reliant on managers taking on the true leadership role inherent in their […]

  3. […] that kind of workplace environment – one in which employees will naturally want to engage, I argue – is reliant on managers taking on the true leadership role inherent in their position. […]

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