Before developing strategies to engage employees within an organization, it is important to understand what employee engagement actually is.
Sam works as a project lead in an IT company. He has a team of 10 members under him and they have been working on a critical customer-facing project with stiff deadlines. After 8 months of slogging, the team has successfully delivered the code and the User Acceptance Testing has been signed-off by the customer. Tim, Rina, and Kevin are the three senior developers who have invested extra efforts and have been waiting for an opportunity to avail vacation. Sam approves their vacation and they are all set to leave to their respective hometowns the next morning.
Sam receives a call that evening from a customer that a certain bug has been uncovered before the production move, and they urgently need someone to support the fix.
Sam calls up the three team members individually and asks them whether they can support the emergency situation.
Tim retaliates, "Sam, could you check this with Rina? She just got promoted and ideally she should own this up."
Rina reacts, "Sam, I would love to take this up because this project got me recognition. But I am afraid I can't cancel this personal vacation. Can you make an alternate arrangement? I can definitely support the team over call or e-mail."
Kevin responds, "Sam, our months of hard work might go to waste if this bug turns up in production and our organization's reputation might be at stake considering the criticality of the project. Let me report to the office tomorrow postponing the vacation."
In the case presented earlier, Tim seems demotivated because of a denied personal recognition and chooses to pass the buck. Rina, though motivated by her recent elevation, is looking for alternate options to somehow manage the situation rather than owning it up. Whereas Kevin seems to be the engaged employee, who goes beyond his call of duty and demonstrates a sense of ownership and accountability.
Research studies prove that engaged employees establish a strong emotional connect with the organization or job and are willing to invest discretionary efforts. Employee engagement can be defined as the degree to which an employee is bonded towards his organization or job.
The following are some of the key characteristics that define an engaged employee:
They understand the holistic picture and strategic objectives of the organization.
They are self-driven, staying focused in accomplishing the end objectives.
They are passionate about their work.
They place their job priority above personal priorities.
They are accountable, take complete ownership, and travel the extra mile.
They are persistent and not bogged down by temporary setbacks.
They are participative in team discussions and provide suggestions for improvement.
They are optimistic and work effectively in a team setup by collaborating with others.
They solicit constructive feedback and constantly upgrade their skills.
They have a sense of belongingness and take pride in associating themselves with the organization.
An engaged employee is in a self-actualized state of being, peaking the pyramid of motivation as proposed by Maslow.
Make a note
Read more on Maslow's hierarchy of needs at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow's_hierarchy_of_needs.