Why Employee Engagement is Everyone’s Problem

The workplace and the workforce have changed.

Your team members work in the office, fully remote, and/or hybrid. They want flexibility in where and when they work and have examined what gives their lives meaning and purpose, wondering if their job matters.

The new world of work requires a new employee engagement approach that recognizes that employee engagement is not a one-size-fits-all approach. It is a partnership between the employee and the employer to co-create a culture where the business and employees thrive.

Rethink the framework of the employer-employee relationship.

The employer-employee relationship is a social contract. And, as a social contract, it can be described in terms of social exchange theory which proposes that social behavior is the result of an exchange process. It is about give-and-take or balance and reciprocity.

Social exchange suggests that it is the valuing of the benefits and the costs of a relationship that determine whether we choose to continue a social association. The exact same thing happens in your relationship with your employees.

In healthy relationships, both parties evaluate the benefits and costs of the relationship. However, frequently in organizations it is a one-sided evaluation. As a result, companies institute one-size-fits-all employee engagement strategies that only marginally enhance engagement.

Now is the time in your company to reconsider  the employer–employee relationship as a social contract and empower and equip your employees to identify and own what they need to be engaged and fulfilled in the new workplace. Once your employees have clarified what they need to be gratified at work, invite them to participate in a thoughtful conversation about how to create a mutually beneficial way to work that supports both parties in achieving their goals.

Equip employees to clarify and own what they need to be engaged and fulfilled.

It takes two to create a vibrant, mutually beneficial, and meaningful professional relationship. This is not possible if your employees are unclear on what they need to be engaged in their jobs.

Ask employees to identify and own what they need in each of the Five Essentials for Professional Fulfillment:

  • Admit – How do you want to be recognized and appreciated in exchange for your contributions?
  • Align – What are your strengths and unique skills? How can you align and leverage them to support the accomplishment of the company’s strategic goals?
  • Develop – What skills and knowledge do you want to develop that will motivate and inspire you and help you advance in your career and within the organization?
  • Cultivate – How can you cultivate authentic relationships with the team so you can advance your career and enjoy your work?
  • Design – How can you design your job to find meaning in your work?

Empower employees to be active designers and creators of their professional experience.

Encourage your employees to be active designers and creators of their professional experience by shaping their work in the following three areas: task, relational and cognitive.

Task – Employees make behavioral changes to how they perform their set of assigned job activities. They either adjust the scope or nature of assignments involved in their job, or take on additional responsibilities.

Ask your employees to consider the following questions:

  • What job duty can I modify so that I can more fully use my strengths to add more meaning to my job?
  • What strength am I not using that I want to use to unlock more significance in my work?

Relational – Employees make changes to their professional relationships. They either alter the extent or nature of your affiliation with their colleagues or develop and build new associations.

Ask your employees to consider the following questions:

  • Who do I want to connect with to create an opportunity for more significance in my work?
  • Or, who do I want to connect with who has a skill which I want to develop, or has held a position in my company that I want to have?

Cognitive – Employees make proactive psychological changes to their perceptions of their job. They redefine what they see as the type and nature of their duties or relationships involved in their job. And employees reframe their jobs to see it as a meaningful whole that positively impacts others rather than a collection of separate responsibilities.

Work today cannot be a zero-sum game. It’s time to co-create a workplace where everyone thrives. Unleash extraordinary potential in your organization when the employer-employee relationship is reimagined as a social contract, and your employees are empowered and equipped to own their professional fulfillment needs.


Originally published on LinkedIn by Carson Tate

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