I believe that employee engagement is as important to driving workplace productivity as innovation. However, how do we become better engaged?
Over the past number of years, I’ve met with many people and the vast majority are looking for greater engagement in their work. By the time I’m talking with them, they’ve emotionally and mentally detached from their current employer. “I’d like to work in sustainability/social enterprise or find something more purposeful/fulfilling/rewarding or in an organisation that better develops/values/respects me” they say.
I then ask lots of questions about their current situation and employer and the mindset is often the same – other people need to better engage with me. Together with a lack of personal empowerment and, sometimes even responsibility, it makes people feel helpless. A passenger in their own life.
It reminds me of my time living and working in a master-planned community. There was a sense from new residents that “I’m here now, where is the community?”. Community, like engagement, is something we all need to contribute to, to nurture and to develop. It is about relationships, not transactions. The reverse is best represented by the “I won’t come to your funeral if you don’t come to mine”. An opportunity to contribute, to make someone’s life better, to put a smile on a face, doesn’t work if you’re looking for an immediate and direct payback.
So, next time you’re feeling disengaged, remember you are making the choice. Sure it helps if your employer is looking to be more engaging. However, don’t discount your ability to create engagement. Look for opportunities, however small, to make a difference to someone else. Engaging is infectious. You have the power to be engaged!