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What Makes an Engaged Employee?


Posted by on December 6, 2011

As I’ve stated before organizations today are focusing too much on “busy metrics” as their way to define engagement.  Blog comments, ideas, number of groups, and amount of content shared are all variables that organizations are looking at trying to justify and explain engagement.  Again, the problem with this is that it focuses on the result of what an engaged employee does but does not address the cause behind what makes an engaged employee.

Gallup defines an engaged employee as someone who “works with passion and feels a profound connection to their company (thanks to Chris McGrath from ThoughtFarmer for giving me the idea for pointing me to this).  They drive innovation and move the organization forward.”  So what does Gallup look at to help understand engagement?  No, it’s not “busy metrics.”  Instead Gallup asks 12 questions which are:

  1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?
  2. Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?
  3. At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
  4. In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?
  5. Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?
  6. Is there someone at work who encourages my development?
  7. At work, do my opinions seem to count?
  8. Does the mission/purpose of my company make me feel my job is important?
  9. Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work?
  10. Do I have a best friend at work?
  11. In the last six months, has someone at work talked to me about my progress?
  12. This last year, have I had opportunities at work to learn and grow?

Now if we look at this and then look at the new types of collaboration platforms available today we have to step back and ask, “if properly deployed (and this means with a strategy) can collaboration tools and strategies help us cultivate engaged employees?”  Now I’m not going to say that these tools will solve all of an organizations problems but we can clearly see how these new tools can satisfy some of the elements (in fact they can probably help with all of them) above such as:

  • Do I know what is expected of me at work?
  • Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?
  • This last year, have I had opportunities at work to learn and grow?
  • At work, do my opinions seem to count?

We under estimate the value of the spirits of our employees which is why I think we are focusing on the wrong things.  This isn’t about busy metrics it’s about understanding how collaborative organizations can positively impact the lives of the employees that work there, this is what creates an engaged employee and this is what builds collaborative organizations.

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