The 101 of Employee Engagement

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A successful employee engagement environment asks for a company culture formed out of different management skills, from human resources and social abilities to quality management aspects.

Trying to get to the bottom of this theme, CMSWire organized a Tweet Jam on the subject. We reached the topic by answering 7 questions that have the power to comprise to the main 7 elements that influences employee engagement (EE): behaviors, leadership, ROI, tools, gamification, quantifications, challenges.

Before getting trough all these elements, we accepted the challenge of defining EE (employee engagement). We said it’s the capacity of the employee to identify with the company. From a very good lot of definitions, we noted 2 very simple, but inclusive ones: “EE thinks what the company does is just as cool as the founder thinks it is”. We very much agree. For the engagement to come naturally, believing in the products and services your company offers is a must. But the most comprised and direct definion was “discretionary effort”. Yes, it is a bombastic term, but just as it was noticed, it suggests intrinsic motivation.

Going to behaviors, as the VP at IBM in Social Business Evangelism pointed, having the right culture is essential, regardless of how you define EE. Being engaged is exactly the spark that makes the difference between internally driven and being driven-up or going the extra mile vs. doing just enough not to get fired.

Many key characteristics were brought into question, out of which the most frequent were: collaborative, innovative, empowered, productive, interactive, enthusiastic, participating. We believe EE is reflected by many actions, like for example: speaks proudly of his company online and in person; feels concerned by any company issue, even if it’s not in his area, tries to help or redirect to the right person; occasionally or frequently works outside the office hours; has initiatives (team building, deploying internal tools, increasing productivity, training…) .

The third question was about the ROI, or how to make a connection between engagement and organizational performance. Staying focused on the ROI matter, profit is the main question. Engaged employees are less subjected to attrition, thus offering many economic advantages. But it’s never only about that. Engaged employees are first of all contagious, resulting in better team productivity. None the less, they create stronger customer relationships and this is one of the major benefits of a company.

With the forth question we go to our favorite part: tools. If tools play a critical role in engagement and how so. As expected, all answers were positive. Our belief is that they can, the same way social networks created super-engaged users, good social-enabled enterprise tools can boost employee engagement: help people learning from each other, resulting in increased work satisfaction (which is key to engagement). Sharing common challenges, lessons learned creates a sense of community and belonging. It puts in contact people from across the organization that would not otherwise connect, thus developing social connections. It engages new hires from the very beginning by facilitating their integration and ramping up. And gamification offers employees permanent feedback and feeling of accomplishment. Enough said? No, not yet 🙂

There are some tricks to it, also. Using a tool will give a chance to open and engage to all employees, even to those more introverted. Will help glue together distributed teams. But it will be useless unless it comes with a training session. If used correctly, an appropriate tool can offer data about worker activity that were concealed with the classical methods. Incorporating it within the work culture will increase participation and will work as an attitude incentive. A tool makes it easier to monitor employees activity and offer an objective guidance for an accurate evaluation.

Question 5’s purpose was to disclose whether there is a good way and a wrong way to deploy gamification in the workplace. As our knowledge management solution is using gamification, we accept it as a very good resourceful mechanism. We believe its popularity among managers and employees talks about the significance of implementing it. But: the achievements defined within the game dynamics have to be carefully designed because they can incentive employees in the wrong direction. Companies should observe the employees response to the rewards given based on those achievements to see if it’s in line with the desired behavior. If not, the gamification parameters has to be adjusted. It has to motivate towards success, but without promoting negative competition.

The last 2 questions focused on ways to quantify employee engagement and the challenges that a company has to face in order to sustain it. You can always tell if your employees are engaged by the number of internal communication units using company tools, like emails on mailing lists, contributions to Q&A, wiki, forums, etc. Observing number of colleagues the employee is in permanent contact with professionally, outside strictly their own tasks is a sure sign he cares about company’s overall success and not his own. External and internal surveys will talk about customers satisfaction and employees sentiment analysis. Retention definitely speaks for itself.

Challenges are large, but where’s there’s a will, there’s a way. If managers are accessible and willing to healthy leadership actions, creating an engaging environment won’t be that hard. But not without the lack of communication tools. People are fundamentally social, they like to work in teams and relate with other people. Unclear expectations can also prove a stepping stone. If there’s a disconnection between manager’s expectations from the employee, and the latter’s idea of his goals, this leads to frustration and ultimately disengagement from the company. Transparency is a must.

The lack of recognition, or at least clear feedback will also plays as an obstacle in the way of progress. Not giving employees credit for their achievements, or constructive feedback on their mistakes, makes them feel unappreciated. This is a critical issue that can even lead to the employee leaving the company.

Offering a solution that we believe it has the power to induce employees engagement, is just natural to be passionate about this subject. If you got to the end of this article it means you care about it just as as much as we do. And this means it’s either you are already an engaged employee or a manager that could use some EE tricks. Either way, we hope you got your answer! Feel free to write us if you want to know about how Quandora Q&A can help improve your company’s performance.

Looking for a great way to ask questions and build knowledge with your co-workers? Quandora enables simple, efficient knowledge sharing with your team, way more fun than a mailing list or a forum. Try Quandora

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