The Secret Value of Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is one of the biggest talking points when it comes to change management projects, and at first sight there are a variety of potential starting points to stimulate employee engagement. I would like to take a moment to unravel the seemingly overwhelming challenge of trying to identify potential core elements of successful employee engagement and describe a simple framework for enabling employee-engagement-related success.

Let’s start with a definition. One definition of employee engagement is “a positive cognitive, emotional and behavioral state directed toward organizational outcomes.” But how do you trigger this “positive cognitive, emotional and behavioral state”? Over the years, several studies and books have been written about employee engagement. When reviewing their core topics, one can identify certain elements that are similar:

  1. Employees must have a feeling of importance. The work that they do must be appreciated. Related to this, employees should constantly inhale the “spirit” of the organization in terms of ethos, values and vision, as well as find their role in this setup.

  2. Employees must be provided with a clear description of their job profiles. They need to know their employers’ expectations. In addition, improvement opportunities regarding employees’ careers must be visible, reachable and realistic.

  3. Managers must provide regular feedback and facilitate open dialogue. They should also actively foster relationships between employees and their colleagues. Employees must be rewarded regularly for their work.

If these three topics build the core of so much research, is it possible break them down into three clear words that equal successful employee engagement? I think so! For me, the three words are empowerment, development and leadership – the clear keys to success.

  1. Empowerment – Employees are people and long for possibilities to become involved in decisions that influence their daily work. Therefore, it’s essential to create an environment that fosters a culture of openness and innovation providing employees with the possibilities to express themselves.

  2. Development – Empowerment is directly related to personal development. Employees will acquire knowledge faster and prove their full potential easier in an open and innovative environment. In the long run, this will allow the most talented people to stay longer and move the organization to the next level.

  3. Leadership – Everything stands and falls with leadership. The more core values and ethical standards are lived by management, the higher the employee engagement will be. The more values and standards affect the reward system and are set as a guideline when it comes to decision making, the higher the engagement level will be. The higher the degree with which managers trust their people and actively show respect for all contributions employees generate, the higher employee engagement will be.

Research shows that, ultimately, engaged employees will show a stronger commitment toward their company and will be willing to work harder and with more enthusiasm. But just as important, they will feel connected to their company. This can yield benefits such as less stress and stress-related illness as well as reduced turnover. An employee who is truly engaged will be an ambassador for her or his company and remain positive about work, duties, colleagues and managers. What more could a company long for?
I would like to hear what you think and invite you to comment.