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By David Harder on August, 16, 2010

Employee engagement – How can you know?

The concept of employee engagement entered the workplace in 1990. Ironically, we were delivering the first Inspired Work Program which has become one of the leading resources for employee engagement.  The need for employee engagement only increases with time. If we don’t get this message, we get a crisis. I’ve harped on the statistic – over 80% of Americans don’t like what they do for a living. As employers, we ought to be more alarmed about this figure than the recession because our economic malaise is an extension of a work-force that needs to adopt a certain disengagement in order to get through the day. On both personal and organizational levels, full engagement requires courage, tenacity, vision, self-reflection and creativity. As a culture, we’ve become so short-term in our focus that we use cynicism, contempt, aimlessness & resignation to avoid rolling up our sleeves and walking into the light because true employee engagement 

is joyful, involved, passionate and immersed in gratitude. Real employee engagement is also alert, invested and protective of the cause.

The financial services industry is a bastion of disengagement. Let’s take a look at AIG. There’s a real trance. Many of the company’s executives settled for financial wealth but were they engaged with their work? Employee engagement requires an effective boss. Joseph Cassano was peter principled upwards at AIG until he took the helm at the financial products division, the very place that helped bring down the global economy. The press about Mr. Cassano indicates that he wasn’t especially bright but people were afraid of him. He drove the sales of faulty financial products through fear and intimidation. None of his direct reports spoke up and insisted they stop. Today, AIG is a shining example of the disengagement that occurs when regular people clock in and clock out as a crime takes place around them.

On the first day of our program, people engage in an exercise that allows them to see what makes them happy. Many of them are already doing the work that can make them happy and they find ways to up the game and make it even more fulfilling. By the time some of our participants have finished this exercise, they’ve already realized they have to change their work and their lives.

This is good!

Here are three ways you can create full engagement with your own work:

1. Define and Find the work that makes you happy

     You are never too young or too old to begin this process. The payoff is extraordinary for you and everyone around you.

2. Learn the skills necessary to succeed

      Many of us don’t define & pursue what we want because we don’t get someone to help us develop the skills to succeed.

3. Build a community to support your ongoing success

     Why do we have to drag winners from the Oscar podium? Because so many people helped them get there. Success isn’t attained on our own.

Here are three ways you can create full engagement with your workers:

1. Attract, Train & Develop Great Bosses

        The best job in the world becomes the job from hell if the boss isn’t great. Build and develop engagement by developing leaders who tell the truth, praise people for their contributions and who continually develop talent to be the best they can be.

2. If you don’t have full engagement, create an intervention

      Check in with your own truth. If you don’t have full engagement with your company, bring in help. Your business will realize more profit by addressing this issue head-on.

3. Develop an Employer Brand Identity

      An employer brand is as important as the product or service brand of your business. The purpose of a brand is to create unshakable faith. If you develop an extraordinary and aspirational brand as an employer, people will want to become part of it. If you live up to that brand, the competition will not be able to touch you.

All the best,