At Limeade, we believe employee well-being isn’t just about health – it’s about engagement. We talk a lot about this topic with our customers and on this blog. Like that 70 percent of American workers are disengaged. And that engagement is important to cultivate because it drives growth, productivity and the bottom line. And while the definition of engagement varies here and there, you generally understand it means people are into their jobs, feel valued for what they do and are committed to the company on an emotional level – beyond collecting a paycheck or getting promoted. Engagement means people believe in the mission and make strides toward it through their work while living the company values, day in and day out.
But here’s the gazillion dollar question: what does engagement look like? We’ve seen a lot out there about spotting disengagement: sloppy work, calling in sick, complaining and so on. But what makes for an engaged employee?
Here are five tell-tale signs:
- They follow the company and industry outside working hours. Engaged employees are industry junkies – they’d read up on the company, trends and competition even if they weren’t working for you. For example – here at Limeade, our employees would devour stories about health, wearable devices, software as a service and/or HR trends regardless of their employment because they’re genuinely interested in these topics.
- They recruit their pals. When someone loves working for a company, it’s no different than finding an awesome new restaurant – they want to share the love! When your people refer their people to you (especially without a referral bonus), you know you’re nailing engagement. Plus, employee happiness is 23 percent more correlated to connections with co-workers than direct supervisors.
- They hang with their colleagues. On a similar note, when employees make time to socialize beyond the 9-5, it’s a sign of trust. They’re no doubt chatting about work, but also getting to know each other as individuals. And contrary to what we were told in elementary school about sitting next to our friends in class, we find this yields a huge return. When people have a chance to loosen up in a social setting, the sharing and vulnerability leads to tighter bonds – and better collaboration at the office.
- They bring great ideas to the table. Engaged employees aren’t shy – they think of how the company can do better and say so (in meetings, with management and with colleagues). They’re genuinely concerned about improving the product or processes to make things better for the customer – even if that starts from within, say by coming up with a new policy or program that makes it easier for employees to perform at a high level.
- They believe their work is meaningful. It sounds super woo-woo and vague, but stay with us. In his bestselling book “Outliers,” Malcolm Gladwell defines meaningful work as having three components: autonomy, complexity and connection between effort and reward. And while he didn’t offer this definition in the context of employee engagement, it totally applies. And it’s measurable. In fact, you can gauge where employees stand by regularly asking them (BTW, we love TINYPulse for this). You don’t have to use Gladwell’s terminology – just ask if they feel they have control over their work, if it’s challenging in a good way and if they’re getting as much from the company as they give. Based on what you learn, you can partner with employees to make frequent, subtle shifts so you see more and more of these five engagement indicators throughout your workforce.