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The engagement equation: Not as hard to crack as you think

The higher the engagement score of an individual, a team or an organization, generally speaking the more productive they are in terms of hours to productivity.

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Engagement is a topic close to my heart, having been exposed to organisations that measure engagement year on year. While organisations measure performance results and metrics such as performance, profitability, and revenue, they are starting to look at employee engagement. Engagement is generally defined as the degree to which a person brings discretionary effort to their role. In plain speak, it also can be thought of as the degree of contentment and happiness an employee experiences. It speaks to things such as are they motivated and do they want to be there? Do they feel happy, part of the team and connected to what it is that they are doing? Do they feel their work is purposeful? Do they feel connected to the end mission and purpose of the organisation?

Engagement is critical, so if we were thinking about the individual level, I might ask how happy are you? I might ask you to give yourself a score out of 100. In a work context, I might want to know how engaged are you on a scale of 1 to 100 to determine what percentage you’re at?

Happiness and engagement are interchangeable.

From a corporate point of view, engagement has been studied in terms of the question, is it predictive? Or, does it actually generate productivity or any kind of metrics?

There have been a variety of studies that basically demonstrate the same relationship. The higher the engagement score of an individual, a team or an organisation, the more productive they are in terms of hours to productivity. But also, in terms of output, reduced turnover and reduced absenteeism.

There seems to be a definite relationship between engagement and performance.

In other words, people choose to bring more of themselves into what they are doing and enjoy bringing more of themselves to what they are doing when they feel engaged. 

Alongside this, in positive psychology, they have started to consider the question, how do you increase employee engagement of an individual through happiness and morale, and therefore produce a net benefit to an organisation? What they have found, from Shawn Achor’s work is around what he termed the happiness advantage, which means is the happier and more engaged your staff are the more productive they are. He has cited several examples that show this is the case. Further, the ability to get into flow state through improved and intentional focus in an activity that is meaningful and impactful results in increased happiness and enjoyment in the task itself and feeling more accomplished and even more energised after the completion of that task. This shows us when we can immerse ourselves in a task, we are happier, more engaged and energised. For Achor, happiness (and engagement) is the joy we feel from striving.

“Happiness is not just a mood—it’s a work ethic.”

Shawn Achor

One of the keys ways of creating higher engagement was to shift mindset. That begs the question, HOW do you becomes happier, if you aren’t? HOW do you become more engaged if you aren’t?

Part of the answer lies in mindfulness. Mindfulness is the ability to get into a flow state which helps people to structure their time, their schedule and their energy when they are not distracted.

This comes down to managing your environment.

It’s also about allocating the right people to the right task. Is your team in the proper role for their skill set and their capabilities and what they enjoy doing? Are they skill matched to ensure the right fit? And do they have the right resources to be able to do that?

The other part is acknowledging progress and little wins. What we know is even small wins when recognised on meaningful work has the effect of us coming away happier and more accomplished about our day. If we then consciously and intentionally apply gratitude to that we can further increase our sense of happiness.

Again, mindset can help here too. Mindset is like a lever that we use to shift our perception. It’s incredibly powerful…

“By changing the fulcrum of our mindset and lengthening our lever of possibility, we change what is possible.”

Shawn Achor
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