Employee Engagement

Zip EngagementEmployee Engagement might just be the special sauce, the magic ingredient that makes all the difference to a business.  After all if your people aren’t engaged what do you have?

But what exactly is employee engagement?

How do you Define Employee Engagement?

There are many definitions, but here is my favourite:

“The extent to which I can flourish here” ~ Mind Gym

It is short and sweet, but most of all it reinforces the point that engagement is all about me, how I feel.  As the sayings go “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” and “One man’s meat is another man’s poison”.

Or to put it less cryptically, what I am happy to engage with, you might well not be.  Engagement is a very personal thing, two employees working in the same job for the same manager can have totally different views.

Who is Responsible for Engagement?

Employee engagement is dependent on the employee but it is driven by the employer.  Like a zip, you must have something to engage with.

Four groups of people have a part to play:

Senior leaders

The senior leaders of an organisation are responsible for meaning and purpose, for setting the direction.  Their job is to offer a vision that an employee can relate to, something that they will want to contribute to.


For most people, after their spouse and immediate family their manager is the most important person in their lives.  As a manager you can make or ruin somebody’s day.  It is a big responsibility.

If you have ever experienced a bad manager then you will know exactly what a good one looks like.  The hard bit is facing into the feedback that you are probably not as capable a manager as you would like to think.


We are social animals, you only have to see the rise of Facebook to realise that.  Working in an environment where your colleagues commit to doing good work and the enemy is without is massively different to one where there are endless inter-departmental battles and turf wars, people are unhelpful and nobody really cares.

The employee

Most importantly of all, as an employee you have a huge role.  Avey, Wernsing & Luthans highlighted 5 characteristics that truly engaged employees show:

1. Optimism:

Optimism is a fundamental human trait, without it we may well still be living in caves:

To make progress, we need to be able to imagine alternative realities – better ones – and we need to believe that we can achieve them. Such faith helps motivate us to pursue our goals ~ Tali Sharot

2. Purposefulness

Is your work a job, a career or a calling?  Does it meet your inner purpose, your personal raison d’etre?  The answer to that question is a very strong indicator of your levels of engagement.

3. Autonomy

How autonomous are you in your job?  Can you control your own destiny?  If you were to write a list of all the things you do that are in your control and nobody else’s how long would it be?

4. Competency

To flourish at work you need to feel competent in what you do.  This is one of the reasons why starting a new job is so stressful, you become very aware of your limitations

5. Resilience

How well do you adapt to problems and setbacks.  How easily you move from dwelling on the past to looking to the future and working through what the opportunities are?

Engagement is very much a two-way thing.  If you are not engaged in your work then you as an employee suffer far more than anybody else does.

Theory Versus Practice

The theory is interesting but what does this mean in the real world?

Why worry about employee engagement?

The organisation’s part of the deal

Senior leaders

Employee attitude

Read Another Opinion

Other sites on the web that offer interesting thoughts and perspectives on employee engagement include:

Read About the Other Big Ideas

If you found this information helpful then learn about the other two big ideas:

  1. Operations Analysis
  2. Process Improvement

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