TECH, BUSINESS AND CAREER INSIGHTS

How to Be a More Engaged Employee

By: Chris Skaggs | @skaggschrisL

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The struggle is real, folks. Employee engagement is on the decline, and it’s something every employer – and employee – needs to take seriously. According to Office Vibe’s Global & Real-Time State of Employee Engagement (November, 2017):

  • 60% of employees notice that their job is taking a toll on their personal life.
  • 63% of employees feel like they don’t get enough praise.
  • 57% of employees wouldn’t recommend their organization as a good place to work.
  • 56% of employees believe that they don’t have any career advancement opportunities.

Pick a company, any company. On some level, they most likely measure employee satisfaction. This may be through net promoter scores or something similar. But what do these measurements tell our employers about true employee engagement?

When you really delve into employee engagement, you find that satisfaction and happiness are certainly an essential piece of employee engagement; but alone, they’re not enough.

At my company, we send out bi-weekly pulse surveys to gain regular feedback from our employees. These are short and simple, one-question assessments to get a “pulse” of the organization in real time. Annual surveys are a great tool, but shorter and more frequent feedback allows companies to measure the impact of actions like major changes and program implementations long before annual survey time.

By implementing bi-weekly surveys, we’ve also noticed how it’s allowed all our employees to communicate openly. Open-door policies are one thing, but when an employee has something critical to say, these policies don’t typically work like they’re expected to.

100% anonymity and the ability to digitally provide suggestions, comments and criticisms at any time is incredibly valuable when soliciting feedback. Many times when I respond to anonymous feedback, I receive simple responses thanking us for allowing employees this communication channel. Everyone likes to vent, and sometimes that’s all an employee needs to do move forward.

However, the statistics don’t lie – many employees are not engaged. I also firmly believe that employee engagement is a two-way street. Employers (managers included) should be engaging with their employees to build meaningful relationships, but employees should also take some initiative of their career and become a more engaged employee.

Having personally read through hundreds of comments submitted by employees, I’ve found myself providing some of the same tips and advice to employees repeatedly. Below are my suggestions on how to become a more engaged employee.

PROVIDE FEEDBACK
How is a company supposed to fix a problem they aren’t aware exists? If your company is investing in surveys and feedback tools, the least you can do is engage and provide your thoughts and feedback. If your organization does not have these tools, request them!

Transparency is expected in most organizations today. Let your employer know you don’t understand a certain policy or don’t agree with something. If you have a great suggestion, then share it! It doesn't necessarily mean your new idea will be implemented, but at least you can have your voice heard and be a trusted source of feedback for your employer.

If you don’t speak up now, it’s hard to complain later. Just remember, feedback is nothing without honesty – that’s what your employer is asking for!

ASK QUESTIONS
Question your employer. Not in a rude or “gotcha” fashion, but ask tough questions. I’ve found that when an employee asks a question, and I can provide context as to why a decision was made, it benefits all parties involved.

Communication teams are constantly trying to measure their words and be as clear and concise as possible. Sometimes though, that company email isn’t enough. Utilize feedback systems to get more information from your employer. Not only do you get your answers, but you show your employer that you’re invested in the company.

Set-up a regular meeting cadence with your manager – you can ask questions, talk about your performance and set career goals. These meetings don’t have to be long, but dedicating time from you and your manager’s calendar shows how important this meeting is to your success.

BECOME AN AMBASSADOR
You hear a lot today about employer branding (defined as a company’s ability to differentiate and promote its identity to a defined group of candidates that they’re interested in hiring). HR writer, speaker and advisor William Tincup simply states employer branding is “your unique scent.”

There’s no one better to help share your company’s message than you – an employee of the company. Studies show time and time again that employees are viewed as more trustworthy than CEOs and/or marketing departments, and recommendations from friends and family always rank near the top with respect to trusted referral sources.

When your employer publishes a great blog post, share it with your network. At the next company event, take some fun photos and post them using the company’s branded hashtag. Being your brand’s ambassador will show employers you care about the company and not only your career.

GIVE BACK
To give is better than to receive. Whether you’re talking about presents or philanthropy, this statement always rings true. Many companies are fully on-board with social responsibility and giving back to the communities where their employees live, work and play.

If your organization sponsors and/or volunteers at these events, do yourself a favor and be present. Sometimes these charitable events are after hours or are on the weekends and not necessarily convenient. However, your attendance will not only impress your employer, but more often than not, will also enrich your life in more ways than one.

When employees are engaged, they’ll go above and beyond for their company. If you read through these tips and already feel like you’re an engaged employee, that’s great. Now, help one of your coworkers who might be struggling.

No one person, or even team, is responsible for employee engagement – every employee at an organization adds to or takes away from the company culture. We spend a tremendous portion of our waking hours at work – why not be engaged while you’re there!

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