• There are various definitions of the term employee engagement but it is generally accepted to include having an environment where all members of the organisation give their best, willingly contribute to its success and are committed to its goals and values.

    According to ACAS 1 engagement involves:

    • Leaders having a vision and an on-going narrative that is good for the organisation and means something to staff
    • Leading by example. That is, managers acting with integrity and practising what they preach
    • Line managers who can relate to their staff and have the skills to manage and get the best out of them
    • Listening to those on the front line who know what works and what doesn’t.

    Why does all this matter? Because an engaged employee is far more likely to be happy in their work, care about your customers, stay loyal to you and thereby deliver consistent results for the organisation and its customers. We can call this situational engagement.

    If we are to have the right person in the right role however we also need to consider role or task-based engagement. Kenneth Thomas writes compellingly about intrinsic motivation2 as being those factors which lead people to be engaged in their work for its own sake, rather than being extrinsically motivated, i.e. looking to obtain another benefit such as pay.

    The four intrinsic motivators are:

    • Meaningfulness – seeing the value and purposefulness in your work
    • Autonomy – having some degree of choice over how you carry it out
    • Competence – feeling that you have the skills needed to perform your role
    • Progress – experiencing a sense of accomplishment as you move towards your goals

    If these are new ideas for you, test them out for yourself. Consider your own level of engagement with your current and previous roles and then reflect on how you would measure against these criteria.

    Does it help make sense of when and why you have felt most energised or demotivated

    Essentially then, we need to create a culture in which leaders lead, listen, relate and act with integrity. If we can then bear in mind the intrinsic motivators 2 when designing the role, fitting the person to it, designing personal developments plans etc., we will be far more likely to develop a loyal, engaged workforce of people who bring more of themselves to work and build similarly engaged relationships with our own customers. Win-win-win.

    [1] http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=2701

    [2] Intrinsic Motivation at Work (Berrett-Koehler, 2009)

    This content is correct at time of publication

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