Take a minute and remember the very best day you’ve had recently at work. What did it feel like? For most people, it was a day when you felt engaged – you felt like you were doing your very best work at that moment. You felt like the work that you were doing was important. When we’re engaged at work, we are using all of our skills, often in a collaborative way, to make progress that feels significant. Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen every day — in fact, for many people, it hardly ever happens. Employee engagement is the missing piece of the puzzle.
Lack of engagement is a big problem for companies. It causes turnover, wasted time, lower productivity, and poor morale. People who are not engaged don’t feel like what they do makes a difference to anyone, and as a result, they don’t do much other than go through the motions.
There have been a variety of recent studies about why disengagement matters, how much it costs organizations, and overall why it’s a bad thing. Yet creating an engaging work environment still challenges many organizations. They want all the benefits of high-performing employees who are willing to go the extra mile for their job and do great work, but they haven’t figured out how to get there.
Here are three important keys to building an engaging work environment:
- Appreciation: One of the reasons people don’t feel engaged at work is because they don’t get recognized for the great work they do. Lack of recognition is one of the first indicators of an uninspiring, disengaging workplace. And one of the reasons that employees don’t get recognized for the great work they do is that their managers don’t receive training on key management skills like giving feedback
- Purpose: Another reason for lack of employee engagement is when people don’t feel like their work matters. If the goals of the organization are not clear, and by extension the goals of the individual are not clear, they can start to feel like nothing they do is important. Meaningful work is a key driver of happiness and job satisfaction. In fact, it’s been shown to be more important than money.
- Feedback: And finally, the last reason many workplaces lack engagement is because management doesn’t ask for input or show that they care about what workers want and need. Disengaged employees often report that they waste time at work or feel that what they do is not important because management doesn’t show an interest in their feedback.
Engaged workers create great products, provide great service, think creatively, and work well with others. While it takes time and effort to foster a culture of employee engagement in your organization, it’s well worth that investment.
Engaged employees are productive and loyal employees. AMA has seminars and other resources to help you hone your management skills, so you can nurture and keep your best talent.