In the world of business management, trends come and go out of fashion. One management strategy revolves around the concept of employee engagement. The term was first coined in the 1990s and still resounds today in corporations and human resources departments.

What is an “engaged employee?” Through the decades the definition has evolved. In a sense, the words “engaged employee” seem contradictory and redundant. After all, if an employee is engaged, he is employed to engage in some function.

Having an employee completely involved is not simply about job satisfaction, whether a worker likes her job, but goes much further into the psychology of the employee and the culture of the organization where she works. Today an engaged employee is someone who is recognized as an asset to an organization, someone who just doesn’t like his job but will go the extra mile. Some attributes of the engaged employee are listed below.

Emotional Commitment to the Organization — The engaged employee is emotionally and intellectually committed to a company. He has a core belief in its goals and is actively involved in advancing them. The employee sees himself as playing an integral part in the organization.

Ability to Take Initiative — Engaged employees don’t wait to be told to do something. They assess a work situation and take action (or recommend an action to their supervisors). They are active, not passive.

Problem-Solving Skills — The engaged employee thinks on her feet. If faced with an obstacle, she will examine ways to remedy the situation.

Adaptability — The engaged employee is eager to expand his skill sets and learn new things as his job and company goals evolve.

The concept of engaging employees has gained recognition from The Conference Board, a nonprofit organization that is devoted to providing practical and best practices for companies in order to attract committed talent to improve performance. The Conference Board has an auxiliary actually called The Engagement Institute. This institute is dedicated specifically to the strategy of employee empowerment.

The institute promotes and examines means to cultivating and maximizing engagement to increase business. The Engagement Institute has 125 members organizations including Nike, Microsoft, Apple, AT&T, Fordham University and other corporations worldwide.

Engaging Employees Is a Two-Way Street

An important component in attracting and keeping engaged talent to an organization is the establishment of trust between employer and employees. A company must make the ongoing commitment to pursue engagement as a key policy. Some methods for establishing trust with employees include the following areas.

Sharing of Information/Communication — Employees become engaged when they have the information they need to do their jobs and see how their efforts fit in with their personal goals and the company’s goal. It is key that the employees themselves are involved in the engagement process.

Metrics — Providing clear measurements is a key tool that both employees and employer can use to track their goals. These goals should align with the goals of the organization.

Adaptability — An organization, if it is truly committed to engagement, should also do some self-evaluation. Sometimes the culture of a company must change in order to attract engaged talent to reach the company’s goals. Sometimes the process of changing the culture involves trial and error.

With layoffs commonplace in the marketplace and employee morale low, it is more important than ever for companies to improve their internal environments in order to expand their productivity and profits. Workers must be empowered to align their personal goals with the goals of the company. They must see a future with the company and how working together this can be done.

Malcolm Rowlings – Business Management & Staffing Consultant

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