We hear a lot these days about employee engagement.  Although it is important and good to talk about such a critically important topic, it is even more important to act on everything we are learning about what motivates people to bring the best of themselves to work every day. Although many definitions of engagement exist, it really does boil down to an engaged employee being one who is fully involved in and enthusiastic about their work and therefore acting in a way that furthers their organization’s interests. According to Scarlett Surveys, “Employee engagement is a measurable degree of an employee’s positive or negative emotional attachment to their job, colleagues and organization that profoundly influences their willingness to learn and perform at work”.  The terms employee satisfaction and engagement are often used synonymously. Although they are in fact two sides of the same coin, most simply put, the former is what you get and the latter is what you give.

Given the current climate where a myriad of Canadian studies  show that approximately two thirds of the workforce (and that is both private and public sector) are disengaged, what can a leader do not only to keep currently engaged employees excited but to re-engage those who have become ‘zombies’; those who stumble around the office, lower morale and cost the organization money. Practically, managers can make sure they address the four “ates”: Communicate, Create, Delegate, Celebrate.There can never be enough communication in any organization. Begin by clearly communicating your goals and expectations to your team. Without this, how can employees even begin to be fully involved and enthusiastic?  Share information and numbers when you can, as soon as you can and as often as you can.  Everyone understands that not all information can be revealed all the time.  Most employees will respect a manager who says: ” I can’t talk about that right now but as soon as I can, I will” or simply ” I don’t know that but I will try to find out”.  Feedback of the positive and constructive varieties will help foster a positive attachment to their job and ultimately their organization.

Create what? The milieu. At the end of the day, managers can’t make anybody ‘be motivated’ but they most assuredly can influence the environment where employees can self motivate. A strong team environment will contribute to each individual contributor’s sense of belonging.

When and where you can, delegate both for the purpose of development as well as to demonstrate your trust in them to do the job correctly thus increasing their ownership of the task.

Celebrate when and how you can. This doesn’t mean it has to cost a lot of money-be creative and have fun!  Most importantly, be genuine.  Sincere appreciation and recognition will send the intended message: thank you for contributing to our success.