Google search: How do employees help increase employee engagement?
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When I first discovered the term employee engagement I was thrilled. I thought, “Finally! There is something that describes how I want my work to feel! Why can’t my employers get it right?”
I quickly realized that increase employee engagement can’t happen overnight and is quite difficult to improve. It wasn’t just my employers who were struggling with employee engagement.
Of the hundreds (if not thousands) of articles I’ve read about employee engagement, the articles I’ve written, the presentations I’ve attended and given, and the conversations I’ve had with employees and management, the responsibility for engaging employees tends to fall on the employer.
The cycle of non-engagement:
Employers have described how they don’t feel like they have the resources available to make changes. Employees feel like there is absolutely nothing they can do until the employer makes the engagement resources available for which they can engage.
Although I believe systemic change is only possible when the employer is on board with employee engagement initiatives, I was disappointed when I couldn’t find any articles or explicit resources out there on the topic of employees working to improve their own level of engagement.
I decided to reach out to one of my LinkedIn Groups: Employee Communications and Engagement. There are almost 40,000 members in this group so I figured it would be a great staring place.
I asked, “How can *employees* help increase employee engagement?” and described how I recently presented at a conference where all levels of employees in an organization attended. I was asked the question during a Q&A: how can employees who are not in leadership or management positions increase employee engagement within their organization?
My post received over 20 responses with some great feedback.
I wanted to share the results in one place where everyone can access the helpful information.
The primary theme revolved around the idea of employees taking personal responsibility for the way they act (physically and emotionally) and react in the workplace. This is very easy to say, and I think most reasonable people would agree this is important (talk the talk). It’s a lot harder to implement and change the way one functions (walk the walk).
Change won’t happen overnight; it takes little changes over time to make a large impact. Below are ways employees can embrace the idea of employee engagement and start to take responsibility for changing their own personal workplace culture. These “small” personal changes may cause a ripple effect and begin to change the organizational culture as a whole.
Gratitude has been shown to improve the giver’s well-being, resilience, health, and relationships with others. Expression of gratitude also has a ripple effect – cooperative and altruistic behavior can spread from one person to another. Expressing gratitude may inspire other people to do the same. If you find yourself in a workplace lacking gratitude, consciously expressing gratitude may result in increased gratitude by your team members, and possibly even your organization as a whole.
Say a genuine thank you to someone who helped you on a project. Say thank you to the custodian who removes your trash. Anyone can say thank you. Every time you say thank you, you add something back to your workplace culture. Expressing gratitude makes the giver and receiver feel good, while also empowering those around them to share in the moment and to create their own moments in the future.
Take time to reflect on the mission statement, vision statement, and values of your organization. Are you on board with these statements? What sort of emotional reaction do you have when you consider your part in the overall mission and vision of the organization? Organizations with highly engaged employees have communicated their mission/vision in a way that allows their employees to strongly identify with and work toward the mission/vision. Employees begin feel like they are contributing to something bigger than themselves and are making a difference in the world.
If an organization has a clear set of core values and goals, as well as a clear mission statement, vision statement, and strategy, employees have the opportunity to align their personal values/mission/strategy/goals with those of the organization. When these organizational items are clear, employees may ensure their efforts are focused on the same priorities as their employer. Employees can ask themselves and their leadership targeted questions to seek stronger alignment and bring up ideas for performance improvement. Employees can hold themselves accountable for the results of the organization. This type of alignment can improve organizational collaboration at all levels.
Does your organization have a program in place (regardless of how successful) that attempts to engage employees? If so, can you (as an employee) step up your game and become a little more involved?
If your organization has a networking or affinity group, or an advocacy/community program, how involved are you? Do you genuinely participate in surveys, focus groups, or dialogue opportunities so you can involve yourself in how the organization can improve its performance or culture? Could you volunteer to spear-head a team building or volunteer event?
Employees need to remember that if they want something to change, it is their individual responsibility to engage in social events, attend staff meetings, respond to surveys, and share their ideas. Engagement is never a one-sided effort, it will only be truly successful when both sides (employee and employer) give 100%.
Connecting the Dots
When it comes to employee engagement, it often can feel like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe you work for a company or a boss who doesn’t believe they can do anything about the workplace culture (I had a boss say this once). Maybe your boss doesn’t think there’s anything wrong and is either oblivious or avoidant of the issues at hand.
If this is the case, focus on yourself. If you have the mindset that there is nothing you can do to change workplace culture, your workplace culture will never change. However, if you can prevent yourself from becoming cynical and negative about your work situation, your perspective change may help change the perspective and attitudes of those you work with as well.
Say thank you, express gratitude regularly and consistently in a genuine manner. Others will follow suit. Revisit what you love most about your company and how you can contribute to the overall mission/vision of the organization. Finally, involve yourself. If there is a focus group or committee forming, take a risk and join. If your HR department sends out employee surveys, participate and take them seriously. You may even be like one of the individuals described in the success stories above and go as far as starting your own lunch workout class!
Leadership at all levels is responsible for setting the tone of an engaged businesses. At the same time, every employee is responsible for creating and sustaining the culture. You are responsible for the way you think and act. Even when it seems impossible and like you’re stuck in the rut of negativity, you can change your perspective and outlook.
It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.
Thank you for taking the time to read my post! If you’re looking for ways to increase your organization’s level of employee engagement, please review my services here and contact me here.
**Special thank you to the members of the Employee Communications and Engagement Group who responded to my post! This wouldn’t have been possible without you.**