My posts a few years back regarding the concept of engagement and subsequent research on the topic clarified a couple of things to me.
-First, trying to get everyone to agree on a definition of engagement is harder than trying to arrange a blind date.
-Second, my take on the best way to have an engaged workforce is to a) ensure you hire talent that is already predisposed to be engaged, and b) figure out the best way to create an environment where “engagement fence straddlers” (those who might be engaged if placed in the right type of environment) elect to become engaged…
Of course, being the scientific, progressive manager you are, you want a way to baseline the current engagement level of your team before you start tinkering with the environment. WOW – you are an achiever, and if I might add, an engaged one at that…
At the risk of being savagely attacked by the engagement community, here’s my back of the napkin, “let’s wing it” test to determine the engagement level of your current team:
1. Tell your team that if they can find a way to get their current workload complete in less time, you would like to support the use of 4 hours per week at work to pursue any work-related, professional development project that interests them. The only rules are that the project has to be work-related and potentially have a payoff to the business – but if the process leads to them developing new skills that add value to them as professionals, so be it.
2. Answer your team’s questions about what is appropriate related to the project. You might also get questions about how you will measure whether their current workload is being maintained. Answer all questions to the best of your ability, without telling them how to do it.
3. Once you’ve answered all the questions, don’t do anything for 3 weeks.
4. At the 3 week mark, check back in with everyone on your team in brief 1-on-1 sessions. Have they started the project time? What are they working on?
Here’s how to score your findings:
–Associates who have taken advantage of your offer and are aggressively moving forward with a project – ENGAGED
–Associates who have developed some thoughts about what they might do, but have not taken action yet – NOT ENGAGED, BUT POSSIBLY COULD BECOME ENGAGED WITH THE RIGHT ENVIRONMENTAL TWEAKS FROM YOU
–Associates who have done nothing, or have excuses for why they didn’t take advantage of the offer – NOT ENGAGED AND NOT PROBABLE TO BECOME ENGAGED, regardless of your efforts.
Remember, this is only a test, and an informal one at that. You might actually have to start being engaged yourself to create the environment where your direct reports are engaged. Ironic. One of the stats bandied about from the engagement community is that according to Gallup, on average, 29% of employees are engaged and 71% are either unengaged (neutral) or disengaged (opposed).
How many members of your team would you expect to take the offer and run with it?
Just as important – Would you?
Kris Dunn is a Partner and CHRO at Kinetix, a national RPO firm for growth companies headquartered in Atlanta. He’s also the founder Fistful of Talent (founded in 2008) and The HR Capitalist (2007) – and has written over 70 feature columns at Workforce Management magazine. Prior to his investment at Kinetix, Kris served in HR leadership roles at DAXKO, Charter and Cingular. In his spare time, KD hits the road as a speaker and gives the world what it needs – pop culture references linked to Human Capital street smarts.