Create the environment and employee engagement will follow

Scott Constantine of Performance Link NZ shares a series of plain truth articles about creating a highly engaged workforce. 

The bulk of employees in the Western corporate world are either disengaged or at best ambivalent (60 - 70% on average). This dismal statistic provides enormous opportunity for business improvement especially given the correlation between employee engagement and business performance. 

People Leaders and Managers can dramatically improve employee engagement by creating the right environment and culture. In fact their influence is critical, but how can engagement be addressed? 

Quick Poll

At work I feel able to channel my energy and talent into the things that are going to make the biggest difference to the success of the organisation.
Every day
Most days
Some days
Never !!

An engaging philosophy

There are several frameworks that can be used to explore this question. The one I prefer and will use throughout these articles proposes that engaged employees are those employees who are fully present in the performance of their work. That is to say, that they are actively and of their own discretion, fully utilising their cognitive, emotional and physical capabilities in the execution of their work tasks and roles. Employee engagement in this respect is therefore about unlocking the talent and unique strengths within each person for the pursuit of work goals. When the environment is right for an individual, their 'true-self, their most valuable-self will emerge.  

This model of employee engagement is not simply a form of transactional performance motivation, nor is it just about employee satisfaction.  Employee engagement in this respect is about unlocking passion, tireless energy and discretionary effort that comes when people are really into the things they are doing.  We probably see it often in top creative and expressive performances, sporting performances, presentations and all sorts of other events when people are really passionate about their particular pursuit. These people love what they are doing, are passionate about it and on a mission to express themselves in the very most impressive way possible... more often than not these people are drawing on every personal attribute they have and applying this cocktail mix in their unique way.  There is no set formula, nor a script, nor algorithm other than unlocking and utilising everything from within in the most effective way possible

The challenge for workplace leaders in the quest to raise employee engagement is how to create an environment where people can be, and want to be their best, and are able to apply themselves in the best way possible for the pursuit of organisational goals. In such an environment employee engagement will flourish naturally. 

There are three critical environmental factors that need to be met if elevated levels of engagement are to be attained. At a high level here's what we need to do:

Environmental Factor #1 - Meaningfulness

Create an environment where people feel the investment of their true-self is worthwhile, valued, and valuable. This is an environment where people feel able to give the best of themselves to their work, able to receive the best from their work, and also able to give to, and receive the best from others in the course of work.     

Environmental Factor #2  - Psychological Safety

Create an environment that provides sufficient psychological safety. This is where there is a sense of being able to show and utilise one's true-self without fear of negative consequences to self-image, status, affiliation, or career. 

Environmental Factor #3 - Availability 

Create space for people to be able to immerse themselves in that task or challenge at hand. This may mean having to address hygiene factors such as, prioritising sensibly, reducing things that are draining or diverting energy or passion, and creating the space needed for people to be their best and to deliver their best.  This is an environment where employees feel capable of driving physical, intellectual, and emotional energies into areas where they can make the biggest difference. 

"In summary, the creation of a highly engaged workforce first requires systematic attention to three critical environment factors - meaningfulness, psychological safety, and being available to fully immerse in the task at hand" 

Scott Constantine - Organisational Development Consultant - Insight, Performance & Change


       Mailing list subscription

(c) 2012 S.R Constantine. All rights reserved.