Employee engagement is one of the terms you hear a lot these days and I’ve certainly used those words a great deal in the work that I do. Most everyone agrees that if you want to grow a successful business you need employees that are engaged. It’s important, though, to ask the question why. Engagement for engagement’s sake doesn’t drive growth, profits or sustainability but the actions you get from an engaged team of people, do. Here are some of the reasons that engagement matters and why it’s worth working towards.
Without engaged employees, mediocrity might be your best hope.
If you don’t want to have better products, services, delivery systems or client interactions then engagement doesn’t matter. People who aren’t engaged show up and focus on what they take from the business- the paycheck. They aren’t looking at how we can do things better; they are looking at all the things they wish were easier for them.
The only thing disengaged people are collaborating about is how to find a new job or a different place to work. People who are looking for new ideas and are interested in building solutions across different functions collaborate because that’s how they accomplish those tasks. Disengaged people don’t care if they ever accomplish those items.
Accountability is one of the things that I hear leaders frequently wish they had more of in their business. Accountability comes when someone cares enough about the outcome to own the path for getting to it. Disengaged employees think of the outcome as quitting time, not reaching new goals for the business.
Engaged employees look for ways to learn more, experience more, try new things and become more capable. Engagement leads directly to individual improvement and that means that our business is better tomorrow and capable of more than it was today.
Growth is about change. Businesses that build strong teams of engaged people change faster, because people are focused on the growth, not the challenges that change brings. Change is not resisted by people who want a better outcome, only by people who look at change as additional work or more trouble.
People who work in organizations with a high level of engagement find others around them who are willing to help them learn and grow. Individuals focused on the mission of the business are less worried about who gets the credit than they are about the team being successful. If you doubt this, go watch a team of people build houses for an organization like Habitat For Humanity or work for a similar kind of organization where groups of people come together because they are working toward a common goal. They welcome everyone to the team and help each person find out how they can most successfully contribute to the team’s efforts.
Engagement matters because it is an essential precursor for these kinds of interactions and outcomes within the organization. If you think you can build a thriving business without any of these critical factors, well, candidly, I’ve never seen one. If you think there are other things in your business more important than the engagement of the people who work there, well, I can’t think of any. Disengaged people create problems and engaged people solve them, it’s often as simple as that.
The questions becomes how do you build a culture that engages people and causes them to bring more of their innovation, ideas, creativity, accountability and resilience to the business. The good news is that you can but the first step is making engagement something you care about. Not because the term is getting used more, but because without it, no business will be successful for long.
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