Recognizing Engagement

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The topic of employee engagement continues to make frequent appearances across the breadth of Human Resources communications channels. Everyone involved in the management of people (or involved in educating and informing those who manage people), has been dissecting employee engagement for the past couple of years. Even Dale Carnegie’s iconic book, "How to Win Friends and Influence People," has been recast as a tool for building engagement.

Throughout this extensive exploration of employee engagement, many questions (like these), continue to generate debate:

And of course, the million dollar question…

In spite of the volume of engagement data and insight this exploration has generated, little has been said about the specific signs and symptoms of engaged workers. How does a manager know when her team is engaged? Aside from conducting employee engagement surveys, which have their own limitations, what indicators can employers look for on a day-to-day basis to determine whether their workforce is generally engaged?

Based on the notion of engagement as a willingness to invest discretionary effort on behalf of the organization, one might assume that the most engaged workers will have their heads down and be buried in work at all times. It’s not surprising that many commonly touted “engagement behaviors” relate to work habits and productivity. For example, we are told that engaged employees:

  • Stay late and arrive early;
  • Take on extra projects;
  • Go out of their way to make customers happy; and
  • Offer pro-actively constructive suggestions for improvement.[1]

But there’s another facet of employee engagement that stems from two key drivers of engagement: doing meaningful work and having positive working relationships. Engagement indicators produced by these factors are less “nose to the grindstone” and more “working here rocks!” behaviors that may include:

  • Laughter,
  • Spontaneous collaboration,
  • Social interaction with co-workers and managers,
  • Clear enthusiasm for the organization’s mission, vision and values,
  • Encouraging friends to apply for job openings, and
  • Offering to mentor new hires.

In organizations where management is less sensitized to the value of an engaged workforce, some of these latter indicators might even be seen as behaviors that reduce productivity rather than enhancing it.

Regardless of what we call it and how it manifests itself in the workplace, employee engagement will continue to be worth striving for since it’s so closely tied to high performance for individuals, teams and organizations. Focusing exclusively on the productivity side of the engagement equation, however, can lead to unintended consequences. As Tony Schwartz writes in his HBR article New Research: How Employee Engagement Hits the Bottom Line:

“For organizations, the challenge is to shift from their traditional focus on getting more out of people, to investing in meeting people’s core needs so they’re freed, fueled, and inspired to bring more of themselves to work, more sustainably.”

The paradox of employee engagement is this—the more you push people to produce at the expense of workplace relationships and meaningful work, the less engaged they become. Conversely, the more you focus on being the kind of organization people want to work for, developing the kind of leaders people want to follow, and creating a work environment where people thrive—the more engaged and productive they will be.

 

NetSuite TribeHR, the social HRMS that’s fostering a more engaged and productive workforce. Try it free today!

Employee Happiness: A Little Goes a Long Way

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Sometimes the job of keeping employees happy, focused and engaged in their work seems almost insurmountable. The larger the organization, the more complex the system of interactions that impact people every day. Removing all the stress and struggle from the workplace is impossible—and not even desirable since a certain amount of stress serves as a catalyst for growth, achievement and change. But finding a simple way to smooth out the daily bumps and improve employee happiness? That's something worth considering. Improving Employee Outlook and Motivation Mood Matters at Work If we can’t reduce the complexity …

3 Halloween Lessons for HR

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We’re rather fond of costumes here at TribeHR. And we typically don’t wait for Halloween to show up as, for example, a unicorn or a circus performer. Having said that, we’re totally onside with dedicating a specific day to appear as our favorite anthropomorphized cuddly animal, superhero, pirate or whatever else floats our boats. Especially if there’s candy involved—and a little competition! Unicorn by Bart Everson, Wikimedia Commons This year, our workplace Halloween party will include contests for both costumes and pumpkin carving. Carving contest-worthy jack-o-lanterns is not easy, so …

Keeping Remote Workers Motivated

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The trend toward telecommuting shows no signs of slowing down. Between 2005 and 2013, the number of remote workers grew by nearly 80%.[1] The numbers show that 50 million workers in the U.S alone could (and want to) work remotely.[2] As this data demonstrates, people who work remotely are often involved in the decision to do so. In fact, many remote workers specifically seek out roles that allowed them the flexibility to work outside the office. When asked, 79% of U.S. workers say they would like to work from home at least part of the time.[3] Working in Isolation In spite of this …

Who is the Customer?

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Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain Many organizations place exceptional customer service at the heart of their mission. Sometimes, this focus on service is the primary element of their brand that sets them apart from the competition. For these companies, customer service is “mission critical.” But who, exactly, is the customer? Typically, a customer is thought of as the client, buyer, or purchaser of an organization’s products or services. For companies who identify customer service as a key differentiator in the marketplace, however, this perspective leaves too much to chance. Every employee who deals directly with these external …

What’s the Buzz at TribeHR?

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TribeHR prepares for ALS ice bucket challenge! Things are pretty exciting here at NetSuite TribeHR. We’re working on next generation HCM software that is truly awesome. On a daily basis we engage with fascinating businesses around the globe. We’re regularly hiring interesting and talented new people. Soon we’ll be too big for our current space, so a move to bigger and better digs is also in the cards. I’d have to say that there is a definite positive energy happening. Work is a lot of fun these days. Not that it wasn …

Motivation in the Workplace: What Drives Us?

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Employee engagement has to be the #1 HR buzz phrase for this decade. How do we get employees to plug in and turn on at work? How do we foster the level of emotional and mental connection with the company and the job that allows them to put forward their best efforts, and love doing it? In their efforts to compete and achieve sustainable growth, employers offer everything from foosball to catered lunches and unlimited vacation to keep employees happy. Sometimes it works and people shine and companies win awards for being great places to work. But sometimes it doesn&rsquo …

3 Tips to Make Employee Engagement More Social

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Employee Engagement is Intrinsically Social We know that employee engagement is both important and also woefully low in most organizations. Despite all the resources put into traditional engagement initiatives, the needle still isn’t moving. Why? The problem with traditional engagement efforts is that it is viewed as the domain of managers. Meaning, let’s give data and leadership training to front-line managers, and they’ll do a better job of engaging their workers. That’s a good start, but it doesn’t tap into the most powerful force for engagement: the workers themselves. According …

Presenteeism: the One Thing Worse than Absenteeism

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Wikimedia Commons, Public domain Absenteeism occurs when an employee misses work intentionally, creating a habit of taking unscheduled time-off for a variety of reasons, legitimate and otherwise. Common Causes of Absenteeism Bullying and harassment – Employees who are bullied or harassed by coworkers and/or bosses are more likely to call in sick to avoid the situation. Burnout, stress and low morale – Heavy workloads, stressful meetings/presentations and feelings of being unappreciated can cause employees to avoid going into work. Personal stress (outside of work) can lead to absenteeism. Childcare and eldercare – Employees may be forced to miss …

People Remember What They Feel

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Last week, someone shared a very powerful quote with me. It was attributed to Maya Angelou, American author and poet. “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” I’ve been thinking about it ever since. Although deceptively simple, Angelou’s words have the ring of truth about them. As a quick test, think about these questions: What do you find when you flip through your mental scrapbook of memories? Who and what do you remember in your …

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