Employee Engagement: The X Factor

In my previous posts, I talked about the usual suspects when it comes to employee engagement: Connection, Affirmation, and Responsibility. These are all important factors, but you may be wondering if that’s all there is. The short answer is no.

Many organizations fail to leverage the full potential of their people, because they miss the Environment. It provides the remaining essential pieces required to solve the engagement puzzle. Here are a few of the factors to consider when evaluating your Environment.

Physical Safety

Let’s begin with perhaps the most obvious; if people don’t feel safe at work, their engagement will understandably be diminished. How is your safety record? If you don’t work in an industrial environment, this may not be your biggest concern – keep reading.

Psychological Safety

If people are physically safe, what about their emotional safety? Although less discussed, the way people feel at work matters. Is your organization or team open to new ideas? Can a person express dissenting views without fear? Are challenging questions encouraged?

Skill Training

Do people have the requisite skills to do their job? Imagine being asked to type 100 words a minute without anyone teaching you how to type. How engaged would you be? Add to the mix incentives for outcomes you are not trained to accomplish and low engagement is inevitable.

Equipment and Facilities

If you don’t have the physical space or equipment you need to do your job with excellence, your motivation will quickly wane. This is not to say people can’t do great work without magnificent facilities – they certainly can. But significant shortcomings in this area will negatively impact engagement. 

Tools and Resources

This is an extension of the equipment and facilities; if people need specific tools and resources (e.g. people, budget, access to experts, or time, to name a few), failure to provide these critical ingredients will, over time, reduce the level of care a person feels and demonstrates for their work.

This is not intended to be an exhaustive list but rather to illustrate the impact of numerous contextual factors. Collectively, if present, these items each contribute to a place in which people really care about their work, co-workers, and the organization. The presence, or absence, of these elements also says a lot about how much leaders care about their people.

To learn more about how to create a culture of full engagement, check out my new book, Win the Heart.