Employee engagement brain storm

A co-worker brought up the topic of staff engagement at our team meeting the other day. She is one of the representatives of a team working to increase staff engagement across the organization. The dire news is that only 21% of staff are engaged, 58% not engaged and 21% actively disengaged across the organization (according to a 2011 Gallup Survey commonly used to measure engagement).

Engaged: these employees are loyal and psychologically committed to the organization. They are more productive and more likely to stay with their company for at least a year.

Not engaged: These employees may be productive, but they are not psychologically connected to their company. They are more likely to miss workdays and more likely to leave.

Actively disengaged: These employees are physically present but psychologically absent. They are unhappy with their work situation and insist on sharing this unhappiness with their colleagues.

She asked us what we thought about engagement, and what are some of the issues around engagement.

An interesting discussion followed, including everything from engagement theory and practice, to humor. I thought I would post a few of the thoughts that came up:

  • There is a spectrum of engagement…not everyone engages in the same way, for the same amount of time. Those details can be important when considering priorities, current levels and goals for future levels of engagement.
  • There are different types of roles in engagement. For example, some people are listeners while other play more a proactive role. It was even mentioned that one of our co-workers tasty treats (cakes and baked goods) provides the social context for other employee engagement.
  • It is important to consider the barriers and challenges to engagement that exist. For example, often we try and engage staff with out all of the necessary support/infrastructure in place to really allow them to fully engage (take action). Or that some disengaged staff may have personal challenges going on in their lives that do not allow them to be engaged at work. For example they are struggling with depression and personal problems outside of the workplace.
  • Interest in engagement can be sparked by different types of opportunities. For example, someone really concerned about the environment at home, might be interested in becoming a sustainability champion. Also, our engagement efforts often land on the already converted. It is important to think about how to reach those hard to reach groups.
  • Engagement is directly related to how you use your discretionary time. We all had a good laugh at the idea of having discretionary time in the work place. But, it is true that engagement requires devoting time for tasks beyond ones immediate responsibilities.

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