What is an example of employee engagement in the workplace?

Talking about employee engagement can feel a lot like trying to catch a unicorn. Abstractions can be frustrating because they might seem like canned responses. Purpose, commitment, collaboration … what do they mean?

How can senior leaders and supervisors identify engaged employees in day-to-day work? Look for these characteristics:

1. Collaboration. Employees work together and support one another in projects. There are no “stars”, silos, and that maddening “need-to-know” culture. People don't use information as power, instead share it.

2. Risk Takers. “Failure is not an option.” This is a famous phrase by Gene Kranz talking about bringing the Apollo 13 astronauts home. Most of our jobs aren’t life-and-death situations, but the reality is that failure is always a possibility. What will you do with that? When something falters, engaged employees discuss it, change course, and work to improve their processes. People discuss failures, setbacks, and challenges openly. Failure, in healthy organizations, is part of growth and improvement. Failure happens, and it’s far from being the end (usually).

3. Assertive Communication. Engaged workers talk to one another. They are respectful. They share insights and challenges. They brainstorm without feeling like they will be ridiculed or rejected. They actively listen and engage in healthy discussions.

4. Initiative. When employees are connected to their organization and work, they don’t wait around, wondering what’s next. They seek out opportunities. They are proactive.

5. Ownership: They take responsibility for their work and the outcomes of their projects. They don't make excuses or blame others when things go wrong; instead, they seek solutions and learn from their mistakes.

6. Positive Relationships: Engaged employees build positive relationships with their colleagues and supervisors. Don't mistake this for after-work drinks and weekend barbecues. At work, people work well together, and these relationships create a supportive work environment leading to better collaboration and communication (see above!). Engaged workers feel part of a community.

7. Absenteeism. One telltale sign of disengagement is absenteeism, sick days, tardiness and more. Get the data from HR. Which departments are seeing the most problems with the basics? Dig deep and find out why.

Employee engagement is, in fact, a series of day-to-day actions that workers take to make their jobs and workplace better. It is an emotional investment people make in the wellbeing of your business. Engagement is expressed in your staff's performance and business outcomes. It matters.

As Simon Sinek says, 'When people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute.'

Next up: In line with the time of year, we’ll discuss horrors in the workplace and drivers of disengagement.

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