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The Employee Engagement Puzzle

Research has shown over and over again that highly engaged employees are more productive and drive better business outcomes. Highly engaged employees are also less likely to leave an organization so it is in an employer’s best interest to figure out how employee engagement really works. There are four interconnecting pieces of the employee engagement puzzle and each piece is critical to the success of the organization.

· The People Piece - The first piece of the puzzle has to do with people. Having the right boss and competent co-workers is critical. If an employee has a boss who is a poor manager or a boss who yells, screams, intimidates and creates chaos on a daily basis, no amount of free stuff is going to make up for the bosses’ bad behavior. If on the other hand an employee’s boss is competent, caring and a fabulous manager, the employee will probably enjoy coming to work every day and the employee will try to do his/her best. Employees also appreciate working with co-workers who are competent and considerate of each other’s work. A nurse in an emergency room cannot do her job alone, she has to rely on her co-workers to pitch in and get the job done whatever it takes.

· The Organization Piece – The second piece of the puzzle has to do with the organization. Is the organization healthy? Does the organization have a good reputation? Are workers threatening to go on strike and grumbling about their lack of a contract? Do employees feel confident that there job is safe? Is the organization profitable? Is the organization listed as one of the best places to work? Does the organization offer growth and advancement opportunities?

· The Position Piece – If an employee is in the wrong job, that employee will not be engaged and will probably leave the organization. No amount of free lunch is going to make that employee engaged.

· The Environment Piece – The work environment piece is huge! There are so many factors to think about when we think of work environment. Is the physical work environment neat, clean and tidy? Does the work environment foster creative thinking? Are there video games and ping pong tables in the cafeteria? Is the equipment up to date? Does the organization provide free coffee, lunch, bagels, pizza on Fridays or any kind of food? Is there a formal reward & recognition program? An informal reward and recognition program? Are the leaders of the organization approachable? Do they meet and greet? Do they care? Does the organization provide fabulous employee benefits, flexible work arrangements, and a fair compensation package? Is the organizational environmentally focused? Does the organizations support community initiatives. Does the organization provide training and development opportunities and/or offer tuition reimbursement? Does the organization embrace diversity?

The good news is that it is possible to engage employees. The challenge is that it takes time, planning, deliberate thought and smart actions. You can’t engage employees in one week and you can’t engage employees by giving them a free coffee mug once a year! You can engage employees by placing them in the right job with the right boss, providing a fabulous work environment with competent co-workers, and taking care of your organization so that it is profitable and reputable. Good luck!



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