Competing in today’s dynamic and volatile environment requires an engaged and inspired team that drives creativity, innovation, and results.
Engagement is not the same as job satisfaction or happiness – individuals can be satisfied with their jobs but remain disengaged. According to John Smythe, the author of the book CEO – Chief Engagement Officer, engagement is “the extent to which people are personally involved in the success of a business.” Gallup defines engagement as “the involvement and enthusiasm of employees in their work and workplace.”
Engaged employees say, stay, and strive. In other words, they say (speak positively about the organization, colleagues, and customers), stay (have an intense desire to remain within the organization) and strive (contribute with extra efforts).
Below are the various levels of employee engagement:
- Fully Engaged:
- Passionate about the organization
- Delivers consistent high-quality results
- Finds innovative solutions to the toughest problems
- Seen as a role model
- Focused on individual responsibilities
- Delivers good, solid performance
- Always does fair share of work
- Works well with others and will help out when asked
- Somewhat Engaged:
- Selective about where to focus efforts
- Spends time doing things that are not helping the organization
- Does what it takes to get by
- Only works when has to
- Results are not meeting standards
- Negative about their interactions with colleagues
Building Employee Engagement
So how do you build employee engagement in your organization? One key step is to focus on purpose, which provides clarity and stimulates innovation. Organizational purpose is an important driver in employee engagement and productivity.
According to David Packard, Co-Founder of Hewlett-Packard, purpose is like a guiding star on the horizon, forever pursued but never reached. Although purpose itself does not change, it does inspire change. The very fact that purpose can never be fully realized means that an organization can never stop stimulating change and progress.
The purpose of an organization is not the answer to the question, “What do you do?” which typically focuses on products, services, and customers, but rather the answer to the question “Why is your work vital?” It conveys what the organization stands for in historical, ethical, emotional, and practical terms.
Here are a few examples of organizational purpose statements:
- ING – To empower people to stay a step ahead in life and in business.
- Kellogg – Creating better days and a place at the table for everyone through our trusted food brands.
- Insurance Australia Group (IAG) – To make your world a safer place.
- REA Group – To change the way the world experiences property
- Southwest Airlines – To connect people to what’s important in their lives through friendly, reliable, and low-cost air travel
- CVS – Bringing our heart to every moment of your health.
Many studies have shown a strong link between purpose and performance. When employees embrace purpose—when the organization lives it, and doesn’t just create colorful posters about it—employee engagement and performance shoot up.
Ready to be Purpose-Driven? Three Tips to Get You Started
- Find Purpose-Oriented Employees: If you want to foster a purpose-oriented organization, you’d be wise to seek candidates who are themselves purpose-oriented. To grab their interest, focus on your organizational mission, vision, products and services more than just salary, perks and benefits.
- Brand with Purpose: From a more macro view, incorporate your organizational purpose directly into your branding efforts. Do the images on your website, recruiting materials, and social media channels reflect an organization that values a positive impact on others, personal development, and strong relationships? Look at your visual images, evaluate the language used, and align all your branding and communications with your organizational purpose.
- Don’t Be Afraid to Start from Square One: First define your personal values, and then move on to clarifying the values and purpose of the organization. Finally, look at the organization as a whole through the lens of attracting, hiring, and retaining talent.
I’d love to hear your experiences with organizations that clearly defined purposes and ones without any purpose. What have been the employee engagement levels in these organizations?