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Employee Engagement: Where Do We Begin?

By Wendy Maynard on October 31st, 2013

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Sadly, happiness at work is rare. Multiple studies show that 70 percent of our workforce in the United States is composed of individuals who don’t like their job. These people are emotionally disconnected from their workplace and less productive than engaged employees.

This is beyond troubling.

Unfortunately, HR departments everywhere are implementing Band-Aid solutions like “employee engagement programs” with canned presentations that fall short of adding true meaning to the people they are trying to reach. The truth of the matter – and what these Band-Aid solutions miss – is that people are engaged by a sense of community and personal growth.

Your employees care about having meaning in their day and mastering new skills.

In order to facilitate this type of motivation and have people in your organization who are truly engaged – you need to get intentional about changing your company’s culture.

You Can Change Your Workplace

Change starts with the leaders – from CEOs to managers. That’s right. It’s on you to address low morale, workplace dissatisfaction, and invasive negativity.

The good news is that there are many things you can put into place to develop an environment where people are genuinely happy and productive. And there’s one thing in particular that makes a big difference to your workforce. But it may not be what you think it is.

In a survey by Teresa M. Amabile and Steven J. Kramer, they asked 600 managers from dozens of companies to rank the impact of different workplace factors commonly considered significant. And the number one answer from the managers was “Recognition for good work (either public or private).”

Interestingly, those managers were wrong.

During a similar time period, Amabile and Kramer also tracked hundreds of knowledge workers in a variety of settings across a multiyear study. The number one thing they needed to feel happy at their job was – ironically – the same thing the managers ranked dead last. They want to see that they are making progress.

The Power of Wins

While there are lots of things that leaders and managers can do to create a vibrant culture and help to engage their people, it can be overwhelming to know where to begin.

But armed with the understanding that employees value progress, we have a powerful foundation for changing our organizations into places where people love to work.

Leadership and managers can help people by setting meaningful goals, allowing autonomy, protecting employees from irrelevant demands, emotionally supporting your team members, and providing the resources groups need to move forward.

The Bottom Line

This is great news – it’s not expensive and is easily within your company’s grasp. You can begin to make changes today.

Plus, it’s the right thing to do – people should be able to enjoy their job.

When you support people and their daily progress, they become happier and more engaged. Engaged employees are more productive and motivated – they produce higher quality work, take fewer sick days, and stay with your company longer.

The bottom line is undeniable – engaged employees mean more profitable, better performing companies.

 

Wendy Maynard

Wendy Maynard is the Strategic Director and co-founder of Kinesis, an award-winning marketing firm and business consultancy. She has over two decades of experience as a marketing strategist, business consultant, and executive coach. You can find her on Twitter and

Read more of Wendy's blog posts.


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