The Look and Feel of Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is top of mind for all organizations right now.

I was preparing for my role on an employee engagement panel and my worlds of practicing HR professional, organizational HR leader and working supervisor collided in a kaleidoscope of thought. Usually my thoughts flow, but they were not flowing at that moment.

With all of the coined words, catch phrases, lists, commandments, principles out there on employee engagement, I fell into the trap of trying to come up my own original <and maybe even a bit disruptive> take on it all.

I had nothing. I was working too hard to sound smart - to be academic - and that's where it all went wrong for me.

Employee engagement is not academic. Yes, Gallup has a ton of research on employee engagement complete with proven interventions and SHRM produces their annual Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement report (spotlighted here) but your efforts will fail if you don't move beyond the data.

Employee engagement is about people. It's about employees choosing to work together to make a product, service or experience better.

There is a look to employee engagement that you can't miss.

From my experiences, employee engagement looks like the supply sergeant coming in on Christmas Day to run through the supply list "one more time" to be sure the deploying soldiers had everything they needed (and more) or the health care team that shifts their schedules over lunch to see a patient who thought his appointment was this week - not next.

There is a feel to employee engagement that you can't miss.

From my experiences, employee engagement feels like urgency. It feels like enthusiasm and being unstoppable. Barriers don't exist, possibility abounds and ideas flow. Produce now, ask questions later. You can't tell an engaged group what the answer to the question is because they come up with questions you haven't thought and the answers are yet to be discovered.

First line supervisors can enhance - or destroy - your efforts.

Yes, yes they can. Training and supporting your first line supervisors is key to any employee engagement effort. They can't deliver if they don't understand and they cannot do it on their own.

Employee engagements is more than 3 bullets and while there are things that work and things that don't, there is not one right way to do employee engagement in any particular organization, department or team.

It starts with a conversation and I will be joining Allan Benowitz, Sharlyn Lauby and Alexandra Levitt this afternoon discussing what engagement means from a business perspective, where to start, how social fits in - and more - at the SilkRoad Connection Global Users Event.

More to come!

Photo credit iStockphoto

Federal HR, SilkRoad Technology and the HR Florida Social Technology Team


I love my job and I also love the opportunity to see HR professionals in action outside my workplace and my organization. I am so lucky that I get to do this. Here's where I'll be over the next few months:

It may seem odd, or very appropriate, for an HR leader whose battle cry is "ban the No. 2" moderate an HR Tech panel but that's just what I am about to do as a guest of LRP Publications for "Accessible Technology Solutions to Current HR Challenges."

The countdown begins for SilkRoad's third annual User Event! I'll be a guest of SilkRoad Technology speaking on a panel  about employee engagement. The best definition of employee engagement I read was just yesterday from Kris Dunn and - heads up -  I plan to steal it shamelessly.

I have the honor of being a guest of HR Florida and an esteemed (!) member of the HR Florida Social Technology Team at the 2012 HR Florida Conference and Expo. I am thrilled just thinking about it and can't freaking wait!

Let me know if you are going to be at any of these events. I'd really enjoy meeting you.