Organizational Culture

Employee Engagement: Time to Put in the Work

This is part four in a five-part series on employee engagement. To read part three, click here.

At this point, we’ve shared two different models that will help organizations optimize their workplace and their people for total employee engagement. However, even the best laid plans often go awry.

That said, we’ve broken down these models of employee engagement into actionable steps organizations can take today to create a more engaged workforce.

Step 1: Define Your Company

Another way to state this is to define why your company exists. For instance, lifestyle brand Life is Good says they exist “to spread the power of optimism.”

Tesla tells the world it exists “to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.”

BARK, creators of Bark Box, say that their mission is to “make dogs as happy as they make us.”

These types of mission statements are easy to believe in, emotionally compelling, and give a greater sense of purpose to the work being done by employees in an organization.

And if you’re not already, consider being transparent about the direction your organization is headed, including financial and revenue goals! This will help employees understand their role in reaching revenue goals, and encourage faith in your organization’s financial stability.

Step 2: Develop Your Leadership Team

Do your leaders and managers have the coaching skills they need to develop the people they rely on? Coaching skills are vital for a healthy organization.

A study performed by Zenger Folkman studied 1,884 leaders in large organizations. The study discovered that employees who say they have a “willingness to go the extra mile” usually give high marks to their leaders. The study discovered “a direct correlation between leaders’ coaching effectiveness and team productivity.”

Step 3: Create an Experience

This step is all about evaluating what you’re offering employees in terms of your workplace, your culture, and the work you ask them to accomplish.

First, examine your culture. Every company has a culture, whether accidental or intentional. We recommend creating intentional culture. What values drive your business? When your values drive your organization’s performance, you’re a step closer to creating an engaging workplace.

Second, evaluate what you’re asking of your employees. Remember that you ask an employee to spend 8 or more hours with you a day, and contribute their ideas and abilities to further your organization.

Respect this time by offering as much meaningful work as you possibly can. Of course there will be times that you can only offer mundane work. An engaged employee will understand that even mundane work helps further an organization and needs to be done. This is where employees will need to go the extra mile.

When you offer enough meaningful work and have solid leaders who coach employees, you’ll discover significantly less resistance when it comes time to do the trivial work.

Step 4: Report and Adjust

At this point, you’ve shored up a lot of your organizational duties. You’ve committed to developing the coaching skills of your managers and leaders, you’ve examined and refined your culture, and you’ve established meaningful work to help with engaging your employees.

In essence, you’ve built an environment where the best employees are allowed to shine. At this stage, you can further refine your engaged workforce by examining who you’re hiring and how your employees are behaving.

Some things to measure or observe are:

  • The frequency with which your employees are finding new ways to contribute ideas and work that further your business goals
  • The level at which your employees understand when they’ve done well, and willingly improve their skills that need work
  • The overall buy-in your employees have for your organization’s mission and goals

If you’re at this step, you’ve done a great job and have crafted a strong workforce that positions you to edge out your competition in the marketplace.

For more information on step 2, arguably the most important step, watch our free SHRM- and HRCI-approved webinar, “Developing the Coaching Skills of Your Managers and Leaders.”

Read part five of this employee engagement series to learn how to determine the root challenges of your engagement struggles. 

Training & Development Industry Researcher | Derek researches, discusses, and writes about the impacts of employee learning on organizations and individuals. He regularly interviews L&D and HR professionals, sharing their insight on trends and best practices that help organizations create stronger training programs, and help to grow their employees and their business.