A common theme among those in the organizational culture crowds is employee engagement. Employee engagement, we’re told, is the key to productivity and a happy workplace.
Just what is “employee engagement” though? And how do you influence it?
Employee engagement is a workplace approach designed to ensure that employees are committed to their organization’s goals and values, motivated to contribute to organizational success, and are able at the same time to enhance their own sense of well-being.
My experience has taught me that doing one thing promotes employee engagement most: caring.
When management cares about their employees, their happiness, and their perspective, employees tend to care about their organization in return. It's not a novel concept, but if we have to talk about employee engagement as much as we do, it's probably not practiced often enough.
Every decision management makes is an opportunity to reveal whether or not they care about their employees. If employees and their perspectives are considered in decisions such as, how the workplace is designed, how schedules are developed, how compensation plans are created and executed, and how messages are communicated, employees infer that management cares. When employees and their perspectives aren’t taken into account in decision-making, employees infer that management doesn't care. Simple enough.
The degree to which employees feel like they, and their perspectives, are cared about undoubtedly correlates to how much they care in return. It's hard to care about people that don't care about you. It's true in business and it's true in life.
With that, you have employee engagement, or the lack thereof. If management wants to create an environment where employees care enough to help them achieve their objectives, then it makes a whole lot of sense for managers to care about their employees first.
Engagement goes far beyond how to treat employees though. Brands can cultivate cult-like loyalty from customers through engagement. The brands that listen, interact, and engage most effectively are the brands that convert customers into their most ardent advocates, the most convincing type of marketing a brand can have.
The real key to caring is sincerity. Managers and brands can't pretend to care for very long because people inevitably see through bullshit initiatives to trick them. When employees or customers experience a sincere effort to care, though, they will consistently reciprocate and everyone wins.
Caring is a characteristic worthy of mastering to develop worthwhile relationships, and it's not exclusive to business. It's worth trying with everyone you want to care about you.