How to Increase Employee Engagement

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This blog has included Jason’s and Bo Amidor’s thoughts, as well as those of several learning professionals, on the role of training in increasing employee engagement, but well now it’s my turn to chime in on the subject.. While previous articles here focused specifically on how employee learning creates a more engaged workforce, I’d like to take a step backwards and give a more general overview of employee engagement. This might be more relevant to readers of this blog who are more interested in normal managerial and leadership application, although I hope everyone will find something valuable here. So, let’s talk about how to improve employee engagement. First, what is engagement? That may seem like a “duh” question, but let’s really consider it. Engagement is the phenomenon in which a participant in an activity is actually focused on the task, willingly and positively, with self-motivation to apply themselves to it. When someone is performing a task they don’t enjoy, don’t really want to do, but feel obligated to do so, they are not engaged. How much of our lives do we spend with no engagement in the task at hand? As children, we are forced to endure school. Our jobs for many of us are no different. It’s not what we wanted to do for a living, we don’t really like it. We just do it well enough to claim that check. In our minds we’re anywhere but there. Such is life, right? No. Engagement is something we need in all things, if we are to succeed and be happy. And for a long time, making the daily grind engaging wasn’t really obvious to approach, but now we have gamification. And this is the ticket, people. Gamification is the act of modeling a game of some sort around the tasks at hand. While it works for training workers, it is really effective for daily work life as well. So, how do we apply this to daily work? By now you know how to do it for training if you’ve paid attention to what I’ve posted. Daily work’s a little different though, isn’t it? Well, yes and no. Daily work still has goals, still has multiple people forming roles and dynamics, the works. Just like an organizational learning environment, the same structures and flows apply, just with smaller metrics and longer term recurring goals. So, most of the rules really don’t’ change much. When quotas are met or exceeded, mishaps are avoided and milestones of personal experience are reached, rewards may be earned. Levels may raise in the game, and with some levels come privileges or rewards that are entirely at managerial discretion as to what they are. It’s not at all different, just the timing is different, more steady. Really, it’s easier to gamify this than training, as it turns out. In addition to gamification, other methods to in increasing employee engagement include constant and open 2-way communication , improving line-of-sight for employees, establishing and communicating a shared vision for the team and company, and celebrating and rewarding achievement.  I hope to look at a few more of these in future posts of mine in the weeks ahead. One key thing to remember – improving employee engagement is very much achievable and important to company growth and success.