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Encompassing Employee Engagement

Encompassing Employee Engagement

How does your organization embody employee engagement?  It will be different within each organization and ultimately depends on the executive leadership team.  Employee engagement has always existed, only the term is relatively new. Engagement used to be thought of as potlucks, birthday cakes, and the occasional Christmas bonus. 

Today, companies are viewing engagement in forms of retention, productivity and culture in alignment with values.  Think about when you first started in your career- did you have a mentor to help guide you? Someone, whether internal or external, that you could call upon to help you navigate the waters?  While potlucks and birthday cakes are fun (and tasty!), employees need purpose in their day.  Although purpose may sound lofty, employees simply want to know that they are viewed as more than someone who collects a paycheck.  

It can also come down to intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivators.

Intrinsic motivators are the things we do for the personal reward, such as playing a sport because we find it enjoyable.  Extrinsic motivators are the things we do to gain a reward, such as going to work to earn a paycheck. We are now trying to ensure we choose a career that fulfills us, knowing that we will serve a purpose.  Doctors want to save lives, which is the intrinsic motivator. The extrinsic motivator is not only the amount of money a doctor earns, but also the notoriety of being known as a doctor.  

Doctors also spend years studying under established physicians, who guide and mentor them. They are not just trained for a couple of weeks and then tossed out into an operating room.  

Organizations have a responsibility to provide employees with opportunities to be successful and engaged at work while comprehending that they have responsibilities outside the workplace, which is not to be undermined or ignored.  What can engagement look like? If exit interviews are completed upon an employee’s separation from the company, they may not divulge the true reason for their choosing to leave. If one particular department is experiencing higher turnover rates than others, once enough data is collected for compare and contrast, the executive team may want to delve into what the cause may be.  It could be the supervisor is not able to lead a team or the nature of the job itself. Both are perfect opportunities to welcome a mentoring opportunity.  

Encourage your teams to incorporate more professional development opportunities.  Allowing time spent with a mentor, even during work hours will show that work-life balance is valued.  Cultural values should embody the Richard Branson theory that if you train them well enough they can leave, but if you treat them well enough they won’t want to leave.  The once coveted team-building events are band-aid methods and the issues will always linger.  Instead of being willing to shut down the department (or office) for a half day for “team-building”, use those opportunities to manage up your people!  

If you are in the process of either building or revising your company’s employee engagement program, ask yourself these questions: 

  1. Does this embody inclusion for all- even those who are in non-exempt positions, or does it only benefit certain people?
  2. Do I want to work somewhere that does not offer me professional development and if it does, it infringes upon my personal life?
  3. Do I want to work somewhere that does not afford me autonomy in my position, even though I’m the one performing that job day in and day out?
  4. Would I refer my friends to work here?

Ask your employees what engagement means to them.  Give them an opportunity to mentor and guide you through devising the program, as it celebrates collaboration, diversity and inclusion.  The results will amaze you and your leadership team.  

Sarah Marchese, M.Sc.
smarchese410@gmail.com

Sarah holds a Master’s in Industrial/Organizational Psychology and loves all things HR. She has worked as a department of one and on teams, currently as a Generalist. She has been recognized as HR Rockstar of the Year by Phoenix Business Journal and Employer’s Council in Arizona.