Employee engagement is a phrase you hear a lot these days. Every organization wants their teams to be fully engaged because people who are engaged are more productive, creative and fulfilled. But wanting engagement is not enough to achieve it. Leaders and teams have to put in the work, and it starts with a true understanding of what engagement is. 

At its core, engagement is purpose-applied. It happens when people understand their role and their benefit to the company and feel a shared sense of accountability for the work they do. Creating these markers of engagement takes time. It’s not a one-off project. Real engagement is woven into the fabric of a company’s work culture, and it starts with engaged leaders. 

Five Markers of Truly Engaged Employees

“When we think about engagement, it really goes back to some solid fundamentals of why.” — Chris Ihrig, CEO of FiredUp! Culture

Happy Employee

When engagement is working, an organization looks and feels like a place where everyone is excited to be at work. There’s a buzz in the atmosphere. People are constantly collaborating, thinking creatively, and taking on new challenges. But at a fundamental level, some simple truths are driving these things. Here are five markers of truly engaged employees.

Truly engaged employees…

  1. Understand the “why” of their job Everyone wants to have a purpose, but that’s not possible if you don’t know why your job matters. Team members should be able to articulate how their daily tasks affect the company, both in their immediate department and to the organization’s larger goals. 
  2. Are interested and challenged in their work Imagine your job was to file documents for 40 hours a week. Motivation is hard to come by when creativity and unique challenges are absent from your work. Engagement encourages creativity, but it also works the other way around. 
  3. Get acknowledged Some people are completely self-motivated, capable of working independently at all times. But most of us thrive on acknowledgment from others that we’re doing good work and contributing to the team. It also helps us stay accountable and focused on the task at hand. 
  4. Feel united by authentic participation think of a group project in school where no one else wanted to work on it so you had to shoulder the load. When everyone is committed to their work, teams thrive. 
  5. Receive fair compensation It’s not just about money anymore. Fair compensation encompasses benefits and more work-life balance opportunities, like flexible work schedules. 

Leaders must consider these markers and then begin to work backward. Each component takes time and effort to accomplish, and many of them rely on each other to ultimately succeed. 

The key is to understand that engagement does not sustain itself. Left ignored and unnourished, engagement will crumble. 

Men Hiking Engagement Problems Do Not Solve Themselves

People find engagement in creativity, purpose, and belonging, all key markers of a healthy culture that can identify and support a person’s individual strengths and interests. And it is the job of leaders to build the capacity of others as a means of improving and maintaining engagement. 

Engagement cannot thrive in systems with made-up trophies, misaligned values, or inauthentic praise. Take time to build meaningful opportunities for recognition and lead by example. 

Make an effort, starting today, to not just allow but promote clear communication so teams can see the why, how, and what that is driving the organization’s direction. Sharing these ideas is the simplest way to offer your team’s purpose, a shared sense of ownership, and a chance to acknowledge the contributions they, and those on their teams, have made. 

Engagement is always critical but especially so during hard times. Find out how to maximize engagement and take your team to the next level, no matter what’s going on around you. Download our free resource: A Comprehensive Guide to Leading Through Difficult Times