The Secret Formula for Employee Engagement

Remember when the exclamation “I’m engaged!” was almost always immediately followed by the question “when’s the wedding?”  In today’s business environment, engagement takes on a whole new meaning, referring instead to how engaged, dedicated, and loyal employees are to their organization.

According to one recent article published in Human Resource Executive Online, HR leaders are increasingly preoccupied with engaging their workers.  After all, engaged team members are more likely to exert discretionary effort, have lower absenteeism, and are more loyal to the organization.  Engaging employees is in every organization’s best interest.

While it is evident that engaging workers is important, recognizing how to do so is a little trickier.  Although many organizations realize the importance, only 29 percent of the population is actively engaged.  Studies have shown numerous variables go into employee engagement and, based on Avatar HR Solution's Key Driver Analysis of over 3.3 million responses, include the following key engagement drivers,

  • Organizational Culture – work/life balance, diversity, etc.
  • Career Development
  • Management’s Leadership Abilities and Relationship with Employees
  • Strategy and Mission
  • Job Content
  • Open Communication
  • Coworker Cooperation/Satisfaction
  • Recognition
  • Availability of Resources to Perform the Job Effectively

While these factors all play a role in engagement for most individuals, it is crucial to consider the fact that everyone is unique.  Women, for example, may be driven more by different factors than men.  Many past posts on this blog have discussed women’s desire to “have it all,” indicating the importance of work/life balance.  Women may be more engaged and dedicated in a job where they have the flexibility to balance both their personal and professional lives. Additionally, research has shown that women tend

to focus more on building close personal relationships with other individuals.  Men, on the other hand, dedicate more time to practicalities.  This dichotomy could reveal that women are more likely to be engaged when they have closer personal bonds with coworkers/managers.

Thus, it is important for HR leaders to avoid the “one size fits all” approach to engaging employees.  Every employee is different, and there is no key formula for engaging all of your workers.  One of the most effective ways to truly understand what engages each individual is to ask.  People appreciate the opportunity to provide input about their job, and it’s a straightforward way of establishing an engagement plan for your team members. Additionally, it allows you to further develop your relationship with your staff.

Questions such as “what about your job makes you enjoy coming to work in the morning” and “do you feel your skills are being utilized effectively” can help shed light on the drivers of engagement for employees.  You’ll be surprised at what you find out.  Remember, however, that the key is not in simply asking the questions, but actually putting what you learn into action.  Your employees will appreciate the individual attention you are giving them, and their engagement will be a great reward for your efforts.

Engagement in the workplace may not be the same as a personal engagement between two people, but the key is that both are relationships, and relationships take work.  Dedicating effort to understanding what engages your workers will allow you to create the most effective action plans to improve engagement.  Don’t wait to engage your employees.  Make the effort now.

Photo credit: iStockphoto

About the author: Melissa Herrett is Associate Marketing Project Manager for Avatar HR Solutions.  In this role, she strategically works to position Avatar HR Solutions as a leader in the quality improvement services industry and contributes posts to their blog. You can connect with Melissa on Twitter at @EngageEmployees.


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