Many people are asking: what’s the matter with employee engagement?
How can we spend so much time, money and energy on the topic and still have Gallup declare that a mere 7% of the global workforce is fully engaged?
Perhaps buried within the question of “what’s the matter?” is the answer – mattering!
It's a challenge to engage when you believe you, your work or the work of your organization does not matter. We don’t automatically rally around the corporate sloganeers that our hearts will be full when we are the number one (fill in the blank) in our industry. We're skeptical when our workplace is proclaimed as a great place to work, but the daily mood of the people we work with is anything but great.
Are dark matter and energy eclipsing your organization's energy?
Perhaps our organizations suffer from too much dark energy and dark matter.
In physics, dark matter neither emits nor absorbs light; yet dark matter and energy constitute 95.1% of the total mass-energy content of the universe. We need more light and lightness in our organizations.
Here are some signs that dark matter and energy (the psychological kind not physical kind) may be eclipsing your organization’s energy.
- Dialogue is infrequent and no one wants a real response to the question, “How are you?”
- Engagement survey results are sucked into a black hole: the results disappear for months and only reappear after leadership has rinsed, cleansed and spun the data.
- Leadership is too busy with administrative tasks to authentically engage with employees in any significant way.
- Fear trumps friendliness.
I'm sure you get the picture — it’s dark.
How feeling that one matters affects employee engagement
When you know that you, your work and the work of your organization matter you will engage.
Mattering is not achieved by emailing
managers the latest employee engagement tips, posting a list of empty values on
the wall or proclaiming, “People are our greatest resource.”
As Rodd Wagner, said in Widgets about the preceding statement,
Humans are not resources. No manager talks about having coffee with one of her “humans.” No father holds his young son and hopes he will one day grow up to be a great “resource.” It is difficult to have the right relationship between a company and its people when the corporate function responsible for doing so goes by a euphemism.
In the age of knowledge work and ephemeral accomplishments it's a challenge to point to what we did or the contributions we made. This challenge makes it even more imperative that people know they matter.
7 ways to show employees that they matter
Here are 7 employee engagement best practices that help to show employees they matter:
1. Listen fully to the voice of employees. Don’t censor respectful dissention.
Dissention can help us change our views or approaches. It's the raw energy that
can be transformed for healthy engagement. Employee voice is the living
heartbeat of the organization ensuring your organization moves forward rather
than sinks into a black hole of disengagement.
2. Erase organizational boxes and silos with authentic community. None of us is as smart as all of us. A good first step is to stop any executive or leadership retreats that are intended to generate organizational strategy. Real strategy must be co-created with the full organization. Don’t retreat – engage!
3. Know that half the time you might be right and half the time you might be wrong. So be declarative while also being tentative. State your views while being ready, willing, and able to have your mind changed. When your mind is open to change your ability to influence others multiplies.
4. End inertia and passivity by turning engagement and recognition into actions: engage, converse, recognize, acknowledge, praise, celebrate and appreciate.
5. Do something unexpected that shows people at work you are mindful and not merely functioning on automatic pilot. Let people know every day the impact they have on you.
6. Improvise more at work because a good improviser must be very attentive to the other people she is improvising with. In improvisational theatre, you build a scene with others on the fly by working with what they offer. In our organizations, we achieve results through innovation and conversation based on our full attentiveness to our co-workers.
7. Vow never to write or agree to another organizational statement, or espouse an organizational value, unless you're prepared to live it. View all organizational values as promises and ensure you never break a promise. It matters.
Put an end to employee disengagement
The implication is clear. Don’t settle for a smattering of engagement, recognition, meaning, or mattering. Put an end to mutters of disengagement by adopting true employee engagement best practices and ensuring people know how much they matter.