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Employee Engagement Activities, Ideas & Tips

What are the best programs to get employees involved and engaged at/with work? Or is it even reasonable to expect engagement type programs really work?

We have various departments with different work responsibilities/levels/shift requirements (some are in a call center and can’t leave their desks randomly during the day). How do we develop a (set of) program(s) that people want to participate in? If you have been a participant in one of these, what makes them work and what turns you off with them?

Answers

Anonymous
(Associate) |

I can share one success story, and a few negative stories as well. I have to remain anonymous as I'm right in the middle of one attempt right now.

For the success story, I found something we all had in common. In that case my team and I were basketball fans. I researched Phil Jackson's methods and applied them to the work team. Basically Phil believes that the others on the team needed to learn their teammates strengths/weaknesses/tendencies so that they could cover for each or let their teammate do what they do best.

Other times I've seen ideas fall flat. Competitive games can bring a surge in productivity, but then start fighting each other in negative ways for the top spot.

The one I'm struggling with now is a plan design so that the employees themselves create projects for their "downtime" and can create a list of accomplishments for their salary reviews. I'm not sure what is going wrong, but I was seen as overstepping bounds with other supervisors. I'm still trying to work it out so that the plan goes into action so any ideas would be appreciated.

EMERSON GALFO
Title: CFO
Company: C-Suite Services
LinkedIn Profile
(CFO, C-Suite Services) |

A contrarian view.....

"Programs" come and go...and to a point, very short term. It should be CULTURE that everyone aspires for and practices on all facets of the company. Don't ask for "programs" but the better question is, how do we change culture.

Mark Matheny
Title: VP - FInancial Planning and Analysis
Company: Novolex (formerly Hilex Poly)
(VP - FInancial Planning and Analysis, Novolex (formerly Hilex Poly)) |

I don't think the external type programs have a lot of staying power. I suggest making sure there are cross functional teams to address the issues of the day. Learn the personalities (square, triangle, diamond or circle is one of the older ways of designating personality types) and guide the interaction accordingly. Don't focus on the engagement, but rather solving the problem. It will be a win/win.

Julie Gordon
Title: Accounting Manager
Company: Melton Machine & ControlCompany
(Accounting Manager, Melton Machine & ControlCompany) |

Everything isn't a problem. It could be an opportunity for growth or culture change. Focus on working together and identifying where there are needs for change. Many times things are seen as a problem - try to solve it; and there was an underlying problem. Make sure you know why things are happening so you can take the correct action.

Anonymous
(CFO) |

external type programs

I've been through many in my career. So many were wasted time. And, even when the program seemed to have some value, carrying over into the work place proved futile or short lived at best.

There are many snake oil salesman out their presenting themselves as being qualified purveyors of various programs.

That mail order PhD doesn't qualify them for this. Even when they insist you refer to them as "doctor".

That lack of an actual working background in an office environment is telling.

If they are so smart, why aren't they rich?

Kymberly Tindall
Title: Client Creation Specialist (Sales Supers..
Company: Tier One Services, LLC
(Client Creation Specialist (Sales Superstar), Tier One Services, LLC) |

Emerson makes a great point about Culture. Culture though is such a general term and at times I am not even sure what it means. What I might start with, if you have the relationships, is finding out more about what prevents the successful engagement. Looking deeper then the symptoms of not engaging, looking for the causes. I would also look at the company values and check to see if the company is aligned with an engaged workforce. The next questions would be, is the company promoting those values, is the company hiring people who regard those values themselves?

Mark Halpren
Title: Principal
Company: FirstCFO Inc.
(Principal, FirstCFO Inc.) |

Sara - I've worked at software companies that focus on employee engagement. Culture is an important piece and easy to use, non-evasive or distracting software can help lead a program like you're envisioning for your team. You can search Soapbox Innovations which provides a customized innovation platform for your team. The hope is that by building a culture of contribution and teaming through innovation you will create engaged employees. You might also get some great ideas for your department or your company at the same time!

Mark Halpren
Title: Principal
Company: FirstCFO Inc.
(Principal, FirstCFO Inc.) |

Sara - I've worked at software companies that focus on employee engagement. Culture is an important piece and easy to use, non-evasive or distracting software can help lead a program like you're envisioning for your team. You can search Soapbox Innovations which provides a customized innovation platform for your team. The hope is that by building a culture of contribution and teaming through innovation you will create engaged employees. You might also get some great ideas for your department or your company at the same time!

Anonymous
(Finance Director / Controller) |

Not to be a cynic, but someone define "engaged" for me.

Employee A - I do my job, do it exceedingly well, I distract no one, and I prefer not to be distracted by others. I keep my house in order, and if you need more, I deliver. Aside from that, I go home to my life. I'm clockwork.

Employee B - I spend my days interacting with others. All I can think about is this company (heck if I didn't socialize here, I'd have no life). I work from home all the time and/or burn the oil at nights in the office. I continuously offer suggestions for improvements for both my area and others (asked for or no). I don't just drink the Kool-Aid, I sell it.

I've had A work for me and be my rock star. B is usually the biggest pain in the neck ever.

I've worked for both types too. Give me A.

I prefer that a company invest in knowledge and proficiency not "engagement".

EMERSON GALFO
Title: CFO
Company: C-Suite Services
LinkedIn Profile
(CFO, C-Suite Services) |

The fallacy of your argument is this....Engagement does NOT mean the absence of knowledge and proficiency. The definition of engagement includes enthusiasm and initiative to do more than what is asked for. Neither A nor B has them. You prefer drones (and there is nothing wrong with that).

I am reminded of this quote by Clarence Francis:

"You can buy a man's time, you can buy a man's physical presence at a certain place, you can even buy a measured number of skilled muscular motions per hour or day. But you cannot buy enthusiasm, you cannot buy initiative, you cannot buy loyalty; you cannot buy the devotion of hearts, minds, and souls. You have to earn these things.

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
Company: SBAConsulting.com
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, SBAConsulting.com) |

Great quote, and that process of earning starts day one, from the first interaction with that person (not candidate or employee, but person, should they be a [potential] customer or vendor.

That interaction has as much to do about brand as community involvement.

Jennifer Eversole
Title: Partner & Knowledge Enthusiast
Company: Management Stack, LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Partner & Knowledge Enthusiast, Management Stack, LLC) |

In the age of knowledge work, employees crave the feeling that comes from knowing that the work they are doing is making a contribution towards the company’s success. Most people aren't in it just for the paycheck, they want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. This is the essence of employee engagement. Engaged employees care about a company’s success and, when put in right environment, will do what it takes to drive that success. Leaders must show employees how they fit in and why their work matters.

This all starts with a well-defined strategy. I use the Balanced Scorecard approach, where business objectives make up the strategy map and initiatives are implemented to move the objectives in the right direction. When done right, these initiatives help drive engagement because people can see how their work is moving the company towards its vision.

Please feel free to message me if you would like more information about the Balanced Scorecard.

Anonymous
(Finance Director / Controller) |

Emerson - agree that engagement and proficiency are not mutually exclusive.

Some characteristics are intrinsic. I've usually counted enthusiasm and initiative among them. This might be an area where a shift in thinking could benefit me.

Nice quote. Any suggestion that a person's heart, mind, and soul should ever be up for grabs by an employer makes me uncomfortable for some strange reason. (That actually sounds like a drone to me.)

I of course still have much to learn in life. I read a lot of your posts, and generally appreciate your views. Thanks for sharing.

Kim (LaCarte) Levesque
Title: Human Resources Professional
Company: Paper Excellence Group
(Human Resources Professional, Paper Excellence Group) |

In my experience engagement thrives in a culture where there is clear applicable two way communication regarding the business needs and direction and how employees contributions will help to achieve goals and vision. They need to understand why, how and what's in it for them.

Didier Jupillat
Title: CFO
Company: Atlantic.net
(CFO, Atlantic.net) |

Perfectly summarized, Kim!
And two-way honest communication is what bring respect between the parties involved, and respect is what enables engagement.
Furthermore, if you also allow your employees to grow (to learn more and to take on more responsibilities to contribute more), their engagement will be even deeper.

ArLyne Diamond
Title: Owner - President
Company: Diamond Associates
LinkedIn Profile
(Owner - President, Diamond Associates) |

Employee engagement is something I just finished writing about. Encouragement, stretch goals, knowing how what you do fits into the overall picture, pride in the company, pride in your department and the work you do. That's what engages!

Anonymous
(Associate) |

"Most people aren't in it just for the paycheck, they want to be a part of something bigger than themselves". I just can't agree to this statement. Everywhere I've worked there are a few people like this, but the majority are there just for the pay.

From my experience, the only way to get employees "engaged" is to have total control over a department. Only then can you show the employees their worth and give them initiatives to grow. Any outside influence takes down the whole department. The employees must also know that if they don't comply they will be sent elsewhere. It's not a scare tactic, it's letting them know that if they don't want to grow, they're better off somewhere else.

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