Staffing Management

What Exactly Is Employee Engagement?

By Staff Report

Jul. 14, 2015

Dear Puzzled,

The historical definition of employee engagement is twofold. First, engaged employees have an intellectual and emotional bond to the organizations at which they work, as well as to their organization’s mission and purpose. As such, they exhibit extreme loyalty in the sense that they intend to remain employed there as opposed to seeking employment elsewhere (commonly referred to as “intent to stay”). The second description regards willingness to exert extra (discretionary) effort in one’s job, and a great indicator of this is the likelihood of volunteering for extra tasks or assignments.

The third and newer definition regards the question of ownership of engagement. Up until 2001, the entire employee engagement industry (employee engagement survey companies) only delivered survey results to employers and managers expecting them only to be responsible for building action plans to enhance engagement. We changed that at the company I founded, HR Solutions, when we pioneered the first-ever deliverable of survey results to the employee themselves, encouraging them to take some responsibility for their own job engagement. The results were revolutionary. One key discovery was that employees who are engaged in their job are eager and willing owners of their job engagement; disengaged and ambivalent employees are more likely to eschew ownership for their own engagement and place responsibility back on their manager and employer, which I call “conditional engagement.”  Like “conditional love,” that one-sidedness is unhealthy and not good for either party.

SOURCE: Kevin Sheridan, chief engagement officer, Kevin Sheridan LLC, Winnetka, Illinois, Jan. 18, 2015.

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