Last week we talked about management strategies for engaging your employees - but what do the results look like? What do engaged employees do differently? By recognizing what an engaged employee looks like, you can better appreciate the benefits and encourage this behavior among your workforce.
Engaged Employees Are Special
In the US, only about 35% of the workforce can be described as “engaged” according to a 2019 Gallup poll. So set your expectations accordingly - while it would be nice, not everyone who works at your company is going to be heavily invested in your company’s success. That doesn’t mean that disengaged employees are “bad,” however. Many are there to do their job, earn their paycheck, and leave. What’s detrimental is letting more and more employees slide further into disengagement. Not only is it a sign of larger problems, but disengagement costs the US economy hundreds of billions of dollars each year. So identifying engaged employee behavior is critical.
Engaged employees have empowering relationships with their managers. They feel encouraged and able to overcome obstacles. The employee feels trusted to handle the situation and knows they will be recognized for fixing the problem. Disengaged employees, however, will often give up when they reach a roadblock. They will either ignore the problem or run to management every time. This usually stems from the “traditional boss” who, according to Gallup, “is transactional -- ‘You give me this, I behave like that’ -- which can create learned helplessness, discouraging the discretional effort that engaged employees exhibit, and ultimately disengaged employees who don't own their own engagement.”
A telltale sign of an engaged employee is their willingness to take initiative and their mindfulness to perform tasks without being asked. For example, if an employee has clocked out and is heading for the door, but sees some garbage on the floor, will they take a couple minutes to pick it up? They’re not getting paid for this, and eventually someone would take care of it, but they feel compelled to do this task. Engaged employees take pride in their company and identify with it’s goals. They want to make the lives of their coworkers easier and think nothing of lending a hand when needed. This translates into better customer experiences because these employees genuinely care about providing great service.
Focused and Positive
When we’re comfortable and motivated, it’s much easier to concentrate on a task. However, if work is chronically overwhelming or demoralizing, your mind is bound to wander. Disengaged employees have trouble focusing on their tasks and often find themselves staring at the clock, checking social media, or making their 5th cup of tea. This is a sign that their daily tasks have become negative experiences that they’re trying to avoid. You may also hear complaining from disengaged employees who feel like they can’t come to management with their suggestions. On the flip side, engaged employees are great at focussing and know that if they have a complaint it will be heard. They’re sources of positivity in the workspace.
Engaged employees provide many benefits to the companies they work for, so keep an eye out for them. Observe the systems and relationships around them to see why they work so well. Talk to them and glean some insight on what motivates and drives them. Then take what you've learned and create the conditions that produce engagement.
By Aubrey Dion
Aubrey Dion is proud to be back working for the family business she grew up in. Over the years, she has performed a wide variety of jobs in both the office and factory, becoming a true "jack of all trades." Aubrey credits her quick learning ability to her strong theatre background, where memorization and attention to detail are vital. Working in the marketing department allows her to stay creative and work on exciting new projects for the company.
Gallup - What Engaged Employees Do Differently
Officevibe - 9 Signs of Engaged vs. Disengaged Employees