David Zinger is a global employee engagement speaker, consultant, and educator. He founded and hosts the 7500-member Employee Engagement Network. David wrote 4 books on work and over 3500 blog posts on the topic. David has devoted over 22,000 hours to engagement and believes that good work is good for everyone.
What does employee engagement mean to you?
There are so many definitions of employee engagement. I have refined my definition to everyday language as good work done well with others every day. Each of those 8 words means a lot to me. We can’t always be great but we can be good and the sustainable good sometimes results in the rare great. To me, engagement is all about the work and the benefits for both the individual and the organization.
How to measure employee engagement?
This is a good question. Like definitions, there are so many different measures. I like measures that are more timely and I think individuals should be the first to see their own measure because we are each personally responsible for our own engagement. I also like behavioral versus attitudinal measures – less about how you feel and more about what you did. The measure should be meaningful for both the individual and organization. For simplicity, we can use simple scaling and ask each person to rate their engagement each day on a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being very disengaged and 10 being highly engaged. To me, measurement needs to be transparent versus anonymous and if the measure of engagement needs to be anonymous we may have a bigger psychological safety issue than an engagement issue.
What are the common causes of employee disengagement?
There are many potential causes ranging from individuals not knowing how to best engage themselves in their work to leadership and management thinking engagement is about “them” other employees and not also about themselves. Leaders and managers are employees too. Overall for engagement, we must be ready, willing, and able to engage and sustainable engagement only occurs when it benefits everyone not just the organization or the individual.
What are the drivers of employee engagement in today’s fast-moving world?
I am not comfortable with the word drivers in engagement. It makes engagement sound mechanical or under someone else’s control. Engagement is not something we do to people it is their connection to their work, their organization, others, etc. We need good daily actions and interactions to help create an environment for full engagement. Engagement thrives on respect, meaning, results, wellbeing, invitation, conversation, personal responsibility, and mutual accountability.
What makes a really effective employee engagement programme? Any best practices to share.
The best engagement is not a program. It is a daily process based on good actions and interactions. People care about their work and each other and see demonstrated caring for the organization. Caring is not simply being soft and unconditional; we can care while holding others accountable for their promises and performance. We care by pay attention and asking.
A few practices that may be helpful are:
- Practice ongoing dialogue between the individual and the organization about what they want and the results they want to achieve and seeing how these fit together. This dialogue is authentic and not creepy. Encouraged rather than mandated. Mutual rather than one way.
- Recognize that authentic engagement creates well-being and is so much more than just a desperate attempt by the organization to get more productivity. Help employees experience how work can make them well with meaning, accomplishment, and connection.
- Make the strong and robust transition from home to work and transitions between the various tasks and relationships we encounter at work. We need to master many transitions each day as the lines between home and work blur because of our smartphone.
- Ask yourself 3 or 4 times a day: What can I do right now to improve engagement for myself of someone else at work? Most of us are smarter than we know!