Employee engagement should always be looked at as a tool for the purpose of reaching the organization's goals and its success. As we keep that in mind, it is important to evaluate each action we take in relation to employee engagement in the light of progressing towards the organization's goals. Basically, we need to translate the goals into action by breaking them into steps and then making sure that everyone is engaged in the role and together everyone is progressing as efficiently as possible towards the organization's goals.
Sounds simple? Well, not that simple at all. Here are some common challenges when it comes to employee engagement, and some practical ways to tackle them:
1. Whose job is it to make sure that employees are engaged?
While the tendency may be to say that managers are responsible for employee engagement, it works much better when employee engagement becomes everyone's responsibility. We call that culture driven engagement. Culture driven engagement views employee engagement as part of the company's overall culture. In culture driven engagement, employees would be encouraged for involvement with the company beyond their defined role, which would be perceived as caring for the company and being invested in its success. In addition, the company culture itself would reward, recognize and highlight engagement, motivation and investment in the company's success. Once engagement becomes an essential part of the company's culture, it becomes everyone's responsibility.
2. How to make sure that employees truly care?
A clear understanding of the importance of what the company does and a clear understanding of its vision, strategy and contribution to its customers, goes a long way in employees loyalty and sense of identification with the company's goals. Oftentimes, the goals are perceived differently by employees than how they are defined by the company. It is important to clarify that. As a general rule, clarity is the best friend of employee engagement- clarity of company's goals and strategy, clarity of expectations and clarity in feedback on performance.
3. How to get leaders engaged in the process of increasing employee engagement?
Leaders get involved in employee engagement both explicitly and implicitly. Explicit involvement of leaders is demonstrated through active actions that indicate to employees that they care: talking to employees, engaging employees in brainstorming processes, and being attentive to feedback, ideas and information coming from employees. Implicit involvement of leaders in employee engagement is manifested through personal example. Some leaders do much better with more structured processes for encouraging employee engagement that allows them to self monitor and reflect on their actions and on how their actions are perceived.
As a general rule, the best tool for employee engagement is awareness. It is easy to blame an employee for their lack of engagement, but in many cases, a low engagement level may be indicative of cracks in the company culture. Once diagnosed and worked on, not only will engagement increase, but the company will walk the faster lane towards success.