6 proven ways to create a culture of engagement

September 2, 2019 - 9 min read
6 Proven Ways to Create a Culture of Engagement

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Push them out of their comfort zone

Develop them into masters of their craft

Show them their positive impact

Help them build a career plan

Increase autonomy

Say what you’ll do and do what you say

There’s no debate that engagement is important to people’s satisfaction and productivity at work. According to one Gallup study, business units with engaged employees are 22% more profitable than those with employees who aren’t engaged. Yet, surveys consistently find that roughly two-thirds of people are not engaged at work.

Deloitte notes that due to the shifting employer-employee relationship, there is now an onus on leadership to create what they call “an irresistible organization.”

Deloitte notes that due to the shifting employer-employee relationship, there is now an onus on leadership to create what they call “an irresistible organization” in order to attract, retain, and keep people engaged. This requires shifting focus from isolated HR programs to crafting a cohesive and compelling employee experience.

Culture has become a significant competitive advantage for attracting and retaining talent.

So what can you do to make your organization more engaging? Read on to find out.

Vigor, dedication, and absorption

One way to make your organization irresistible is to create a culture of engagement. This type of work environment enables the three core elements of work engagement: vigor, dedication, and absorption.

  • Vigor is the experience of having high levels of energy for our work and the willingness to persist despite challenges.
  • Dedication is the experience of finding work meaningful and challenging.
  • Absorption is similar to the experience of “flow” where we are so focused on our work that we lose track of time.

These three dimensions of engagement are directly linked to job performance, profitability, and retention. Here are six science-backed ways to increase engagement by amplifying meaning, challenge, and cultivating a greater sense of ownership over work, for everyone in your organization.

Push them out of their comfort zone

Work that requires us to fully utilize our skills and abilities to achieve something that seemed just beyond our capabilities gives us a sense of growth and accomplishment. Provide team members with opportunities to push what they are capable of in an area that they are interested in or that will help them develop. This requires sharing goals and offering coaching to guide them towards taking more calculated risks. These efforts will be rewarded with increased engagement through dedication and vigor.

Develop them into masters of their craft

The best way to become an expert is through deliberate practice, which requires a cycle of application, feedback, and elevation.

People are more engaged and satisfied when they feel that they’re developing mastery. The best way to become an expert is through deliberate practice, which requires a cycle of application, feedback, and elevation. Leaders can support their team members’ mastery by providing opportunities to apply their skills, providing feedback, and continually increasing the level of challenge as they improve. This is not unlike video games, which draw people in by starting simple and then slowly becoming more challenging. Not only will this approach make your team more absorbed in their work, but also give you a deep bench of expertise to draw upon in your organization.

Show them their positive impact

Make informal (i.e. spontaneous and genuine) recognition and appreciation a cultural norm to develop dedication.

Work is more meaningful and motivating when we know we are having a positive impact. One way to make work more engaging is to show people the impact they have on others, whether it’s customers, clients, or others in your organization. This can be done by passing along testimonials or maintaining an open line of communication between team members and those who they help through their work. Creating a culture of gratitude is another way to engage people by showing them their impact. Make informal (i.e. spontaneous and genuine) recognition and appreciation a cultural norm to develop dedication.

Help them build a career plan

Talking about a future career trajectory can be difficult because you don’t want leaders to over-promise or overcommit. But discussing career goals and making an effort to help team members achieve their goals shows they are valued and helps them see themselves at your organization for the long-term. Although a lot of job movement is expected in the coming year, millennials will stick around when they see stability and a positive career trajectory. Providing career development supports engagement through vigor as we become more invested in our work when we take the long-view.

Increase autonomy

When you offer choices and involve individuals in decision-making, you provide a sense of greater control.

Whenever possible, it’s important to allow people to control their own work, whether it’s owning a project, collaborating on strategy, or having a more flexible work schedule. When you offer choices and involve individuals in decision-making, you provide a sense of greater control and express that you trust their judgment and abilities. Imposing too many restraints on people without their input can result in individuals being passive and disengaged. On the flip side, providing autonomy encourages all three elements of engagement, making it invaluable to our organizational culture.

Say what you’ll do and do what you say

Transparency and honesty are about building trust. When leaders keep too many secrets, they invite speculation and create an environment of insecurity. But when you share the logic behind decisions and follow through on your words, team members will feel they can trust you and in turn, be more dedicated to your organization and their work.

As competition for high-performing individuals has grown, culture has become a significant competitive advantage for attracting and retaining talent. Although changing organizational culture takes a lot of time and effort, taking steps to integrate these principles into your workplace will create a culture of engagement and pay dividends in the long-term.

Original art by Theo Payne. New call-to-action


Published September 2, 2019

Hunter Black

People Science Manager

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