How to get engaged Employees?

One important and often forgotten factor in companies’ success is the engagement of their employees. I would even say that employee engagement is the smallest problem for too many companies. They just want profit, sales, more clients, and more exposure to the world. You cannot eat money but you can use it to improve your company and the life of the people working for it. Don’t forget those doing the job for you, because they won’t forget you when they take a decision regarding their carreer.

Engaged Employees are the one that make your company sky rocket. I already defined employee engagement in an earlier post. What is employee engagement in three words? I will give a quick reminder here for your convenience. It is when employees feel that the job their doing is meaningful and that their environment is safe. This fosters their availability to work better and to give their best. Most of the time, engaged employees feel a bound with their company and go for the extra mile when it is necessary and work hard during difficult times. An engaged employee thinks out of the box, innovates, and finds ways his / her organization can gain competitive advantage or go beyond what is expected from him / her. Now you ask, why should I care?

The Gallup Institute specialized in measuring & studying engagement found out that there is a correlation between high employee engagement and companies with higher success rate. Employee engagement fosters revenue, customer satisfaction, low employee rotation and in the long run the company’s success.

Now you may say: «My employees are happy to work for my company, so what is the matter?». Well, there is a difference between being happy and engaged. For example, you can be happy to work for a company that has a good pension system while being discourage to go to work in the morning because there is nothing making you feel valued and useful. You are just an ant among others trying to keep your position safe so that you can feed your family. Ok, this is maybe a bit of an exaggeration but you understand what I mean. Please, how do you know that your employees are happy? Is it your own feeling about it or the result of a survey? Second, you are probably referring to job satisfaction when you say they are happy. You are satisfied by the conditions you have related to your contract but you are engaged by the mission, the atmosphere and the company human capital management. 
Employees can totally be satisfied but not engaged in their work which is usually the case. Looking at the different companies I had the chance to work. I could hardly see engaged employees. The one that were engaged believed in the mission of their company and had usually great leaders giving them a sense of safety, mission and encouraged people to be “present” during work.

The other trick is that you will never see an engaged employee being unhappy at work. This is probably why there is a big confusion between engagement and satisfaction.

The worst case scenario is when your employees are unhappy. This happens everywhere in small and big companies. People play the game of “I am alright, everything is alright but please do not talk about work…” They may be unhappy because their management is not being clear during a change, they do not have a clue of the direction the company or team is heading to. They have no idea what is expected from them. They try they best to satisfy their boss never knowing if it is good enough because they have no way to measure it. So if you want to start an engagement project in your company you need to clarify few points:

All those point require a time for reflection and can be quite painful as you realize that what you thought was working well is in fact a mess. You have to become a learner, a person who looks straight at the problem and ask: What can we do better? What works? What opportunities do I have?
Organization development is first a self-development path for leaders. You cannot bring change if you are not yourself ready to change!

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