A lot has been said about employee engagement and the connection to business performance. It’s pretty much a no-brainer that if you have people who know HOW to do their jobs and WANT to do their jobs and do a little MORE than their jobs, you have engaged employees and probably a pretty successful company.
But how do you know if you really have engaged employees?
Simple. Do a survey. That’s the conventional wisdom, and it will do a pretty good job of codifying your employees’ feelings, level of satisfaction, and even possibly, their engagement levels. Speaking of employee engagement levels, do you know how many definitions of employee engagement there are? I don’t either, but according to this post in the HRMagazine UK we’re well over 50 and counting.
For my money, the only definition that makes sense to me is people doing more than they NEED to.
And how do you measure that?
Sure people may SAY they’re engaged. But I also say I’m nice even though I’m not always (have you met me?) So how do you find out if you really have engaged employees?
Ask Them to Help
I’ve worked at large and small companies. At both we had issues. We had big projects that came along and required late nights and early mornings. Sometimes even weekends were involved (gasp!).
At the big companies I worked for, the people doing the extra work were in “departments.” One department may have a big project and everyone in that department was required to support the project. If I wasn’t in that department I’d just look away as I walked by at 5:00 pm and try not to connect with their “help me!” eyes.
At the small companies I’ve worked for, when a big project came along EVERYONE worked on it. From the person who answered the main switchboard to the head person in charge. Everyone. Even if the person didn’t have a skill set directly related to the project, there were things they could do. Get coffee. Make copies. Proof read. Anything.
The Real Engagement Test
Here’s the experiment I’d like to see you run the next time your company has a big project that needs to be completed and requires more effort than normal.
Regardless of the department the project is in – ask the project lead if they could use more help. If they say yes, ask them if they would take anyone, or only someone with a Super Special Government Issued Certification Gold Level Attainment qualification? Chances are they will say – “Just send me people – I’ll find something they can do.”
If they give you that answer – send out an all-points-bulletin out to the company asking for volunteers.
See what happens.
If you get a lot of people willing to give up Pizza and Slasher Movie Night, you’ve got engaged employees.
If all you hear are crickets, your surveys aren’t worth a hell of a lot.
Engaged employees will help anywhere. Or at least offer to.
But they have to know about the need. Let them know where they can be impactful (is that really a word – I see it everywhere but I don’t think it is.) Put up a “Help Wanted” of sorts on the main page of your company intranet. Every company has unused capacity somewhere in the organization. Tap into it if you can.
Volunteers are truly engaged. Give your employees more opportunities to volunteer. And if you do and don’t get any volunteers, you’ve got bigger issues than just that one project.