There’s no doubt that employees are crucial building blocks to creating a successful business. They not only make sure the business ticks over and operates as it should, but they can also be an important source of competitive advantage.
It’s not just about attracting and selecting the right people. You have to make sure you get the best out of them by providing the right environment and culture. Success in creating an optimal work environment largely depends upon how well an organisation engages its employees.
It’s been proven time and time again that an engaged workforce is more likely to be high performing and lead to better business outcomes, but what are the characteristics of employee engagement? And how can a business improve employee engagement?
The characteristics of an engaged employee
Measuring how engaged employees are can be difficult as there are many ways to do it. Whether it’s looking at how many people attend a work organised event or using qualitative data, such as verbatim feedback from one-to-one checks in. The way businesses measure engagement is different from one to the next, but one simple method that anyone can try is to take a look around the office and observe employee behaviours. Engaged employees share a mindset, a set of behaviours that distinguish them from their disengaged colleagues. It is tangible and clear if you know what to look for…
“I love my job”
Engagement can be seen clearly from those who admit to “loving their job”. Whilst for some people this is an alien concept, engaged individuals enjoy their day-to-day responsibilities and are keen take up challenges. You will see them fulfilling their responsibilities with energy and consistently working to meet or even exceed expectations.
Dealing with obstacles
We see from engaged employees that they are much better when it comes to overcoming setbacks and do so with more optimism than defeat. They are a lot more resilient and able to handle change and uncertainty without becoming discouraged. This resilience is used when collaborating with others. When they see colleagues facing a challenge, they encourage them to refocus or try an alternative approach.
Highly engaged employees are emotionally committed to their employer and genuinely want what is best for them. They can see how the success of the business is aligned with their own, so they go the extra mile. Projects are completed because they know what needs to be done. They are rarely the people who are packed away and ready to bolt out of the door once the clock strikes 5pm. This discretionary effort is an essential element for the good health and well-being of a company.
Engaged employees rarely rest on their laurels, they look for ways to improve processes and deliver better customer experiences. They will regularly be asking themselves and their colleagues how they can do things better with efficient use of existing resources.
Working with others
Collaboration is key for these individuals. They are usually excellent team members and will share ideas, insights and suggestions that benefit the whole team. There is a realisation that problems are solved by the active participation of a team, so engaged employees will seek out ways to leverage the knowledge and skills of others in order to get things done.
With collaboration comes effective communication. The style of communication from an engaged person will often be open, asking questions for clarity and listening to viewpoints. They will share, explain things to help others understand. What is wonderful to see and experience is engaged leaders, as they use effective communication to motivate, inspire and encourage those in their team.
Creating an employee engagement strategy
As fantastic as it would be for every employee to be 100% engaged, without the right environment, an organisation cannot expect to come close. Employers have a huge part to play in providing a culture that feeds positive engagement – it doesn’t happen on its own.
People however are inherently different, so how can you ensure that all of your people are engaged? Is it even a possibility? If you are looking for a place to start, there are three mainstays of employee engagement that apply to almost all personality types.
Communicate a clear mission
Often, particularly in larger organisations, employees may feel a disconnect between their role and the overall purpose of the company. This lack of clarity around mission and vision can lead to disengagement, with employees feeling that their day-to-day activities lack purpose. To boost engagement, measures can be put in place to ensure an organisation’s strategy is effectively and frequently communicated. This could be achieved through written internal communications or presentations from the leadership team. Sharing this information can lead to increased motivation and engagement as employees have a better understanding of how their efforts impact the bigger picture.
The base of any engagement is trust. Allowing people to complete their work without dictating how is a great way to engage people. They can perform their roles with mutual help and trust, feel like they have their own unique part to play and that they have accomplished something independently.
Surprisingly, getting people to the stage of “loving their job” can be easily accomplished, one area to focus on is job and career satisfaction. There is a correlation between engagement and a commitment to learning and developing so having transparent career paths is important. As part of the overall employee experience, being able to see a clear growth trajectory can have a positive impact on people, leading to a sense of belonging within a business.
Those who are satisfied with their career and how it is developing remain with a business for longer than those who see no opportunities for growth. It is important for managers to spend time with their people to learn what motivates them and what their future career looks like. From here, implement a growth plan but remember that growth or development looks different for everyone, do not avoid the conversations because you assume it means they want to move into a role that is unavailable. Develop the skills and knowledge they will need ready for when the next opportunity arises, they will thank you for it!
Employee engagement happens in organisations that treat their people as their biggest asset and take care of their basic necessities and psychological needs. Ensure your people have enough challenge, trust, ownership, room for growth and opportunities to collaborate.
Disclaimer: The views thoughts and opinions expressed within this article are those of the author, and not those of any company within the Capital International Group (CIG) and as such are neither given nor endorsed by CIG. Information in this article does not constitute investment advice or an offer or an invitation by or on behalf of any company within the Capital International Group of companies to buy or sell any product or security.