More Views on What It Takes to Truly Engage Employees

I, among many others, write fairly often about employee engagement.

Indeed, the importance of strategic, social employee recognition to creating a company culture in which employees would want to engage has been a primary topic for Globoforce for more than 10 years now.

During that time, more and more people – HR pros and consultants alike – have jumped on the engagement bandwagon, and with good reason. Employee engagement is far different from employee satisfaction and measures much more of real value to an organization, such as how well the employee understands the goals of the organization and how committed he or she is to giving discretionary effort to achieve those goals.

Now, isn’t that much more valuable than knowing how satisfied the employee is with the coffee in the café or with the general working conditions?

Yes — engagement IS critical

If employee engagement has become almost de rigueur, why do I and so many others keep researching it and writing about it? Because it’s critical and must be kept at top of mind for those who can fundamentally impact the factors of engagement.

To that point, HR consultancy ETS recently issued a new report on engagement and what it is that makes employees want to give the discretionary effort that’s the hallmark of employee engagement – to “go the extra mile.”

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Titled Getting employees to go the extra mile, the report highlights the following as the three most significant motivators that lead to employees being more prepared to go above and beyond their job description:

  • Employee’s role – understanding what is expected in a given role and how this supports business goals;
  • Leadership – employees believing in leaders;
  • Communication – employees feeling free to communicate upwards within the company.”

When you achieve “true” engagement

In a similar vein, SCInc, a learning and development consulting company, wrote about the importance of alignment in employee engagement, a topic I’ve discussed before. SCInc’s point is that true engagement is only achieved when employees can answer “yes” to both of these questions:

  1. “I like my work and I do it well” (maximum satisfaction);
  2. “I help achieve the goals of my company” (maximum contribute).

Engagement happens when the job tasks assigned to an employee are aligned to the department, team or organizational goals, and at the same time tap into an employee’s natural talent, proficiency and passion.”

What both studies point to is the simplicity and the complexity of true employee engagement – employees know what you need them to do, why you need them to do, and they want to get it done.

What’s your preferred definition of employee engagement?

You can find more from Derek Irvine on his Recognize This! blog.

Derek Irvine is one of the world’s foremost experts on employee recognition and engagement, helping business leaders set a higher vision and ambition for their company culture. As the Vice President of Client Strategy and Consulting at Globoforce, Derek helps clients — including some of world’s most admired companies such as Proctor and Gamble, Intuit, KPMG, and Thomson Reuters — leverage recognition strategies and best practices to better manage company culture, elevate employee engagement, increase retention, and improve the bottom line. He's also a renowned speaker and co-author of Winning with a Culture of Recognition. Contact him at


4 Comments on “More Views on What It Takes to Truly Engage Employees

  1. I saw a great comment from @jamienotter: “You don’t create engaged employees, people are engaged by default. They are just not engaged with what you are putting in front of them”
    We need to stop thinking about engagement so much, so that we can get to get engagement.
    Do what’s right:
    Have competive pay and benefits
    Hire managers who respect employees. Respect means managers explain the “why” of tasks, the goal of the team as it fits into the strategy of the orgnaization
    Treat employees equitable as individuals
    Follow the basic principle of don’t be a jerk.  

    If we get that done engagement will follow

  2. Agreed, Rob. That’s why I usually put it more in terms of “create an environment and culture in which your employees WANT to engage.”

  3. A great post on an important topic!  We’d like to add that number of organizations are experimenting with giving greater levels of autonomy to their employees as a
    means to engage and cultivate their talents. Employees who believe they are
    free to make choices in the workplace environment – and be accountable for those
    choices – are often more productive and more personally invested in their role. 

    In a recent Whitepaper, we identified the 3 foundational building blocks to creating a satisfying work environment as:

    1.Help me understand what’s expected of me, but value my input
    2.Give me the right training and tools to perform my job    
    3.Give me regular, informal feedback and recognition

     Once that foundation is firmly established, these 3 building blocks will drive a sense of ownership and accountability:
    1.Autonomy to do my best work
    2. Continuous opportunities to share ideas
    3. Personal short- and long-term goal setting
    This structure isn’t radical thinking.  Organizations like Google have been focusing on autonomy as an engagement driver for years.  Autonomy doesn’t have to mean every man/woman is an island – rather, it can be collaborative; every man/woman is an important

  4. A recent study conducted by Gallup highlighted that many of India’s
    successful organizations are losing employee engagement and are unaware
    of the reason.

    Employees need to feel engaged with the work they do,
    peers they work with and the organization they work for. 


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