Keys to Engagement at Work

In its studies with over 30 million employees, in big and small organizations across industries, Gallup identified four things that contribute to whether employees are engaged:

  • Basic Tools. Do I know what is expected of me? Do I have what I need to do my job?
  • Feeling that they are Contributing. In the past week, have I received acknowledgment of my good work?  Do people seem to care about my opinions?
  • A Sense of Belonging. Is there someone at work who cares about me as a person, and not just because of the role I play?
  • Intellectual Resources. Has someone spoken with me about my goals and progress? Do I have chances at work to do what I do best? Am I encouraged to take risks?

Why do we care? 

No matter how good our idea or product, we depend upon people to make our companies work. Every function, from finance to sales, legal to quality, procurement to marketing and everything else, depends upon people.  They determine the success, mediocrity or failure of our organization.

We can say our employees are our most valuable assets. We can write it in bright colors on company posters. However, if don’t take any action, then it is nothing more than a cliché.  Like everything in life, what we pay attention to and nurture, grows.   Companies that take the time to address these four, simple elements see tangible, meaningful differences in both their financial metrics and in making people’s lives better.

When we are engaged at work, we are more creative and better problem solvers. We are sick less often and are better able to recover from setbacks.  There are fewer mistakes and accidents.  Plus, when people are engaged, they are more fun to be around. They are happier.  If we are going to spend eight, nine or ten hours each day at work, it is important that we like where we are and what we are doing.Boy^_I_sure_did_a_good_day's_work_today^_-_NARA_-_534883

Small Investment. We All Affect Each Other. 

It does not take a huge investment of time or money to increase engagement among your employees or coworkers. Note: This is not a one-way flow from management down to the employees.  All of us affect one another, up, down and across the organization.  (More on that in a later article!)

Action Steps.

Mark a time on your calendar each week to consider how you can increase engagement. Think about each member of your team and ask: What can I do to make sure he or she

  • Has the basic things required to do their job?
  • Recognizes that his or her contribution matters?
  • Has a sense of belonging to the group or organization?
  • Has opportunities to be their best, stretch themselves and grow.

You might not be able to address everything. We don’t have unlimited resources. However, you will be surprised what you can control. Write down the action items you come up with. Check again next week to make sure you have followed through.  You can affect the bottom line, productivity and effectiveness, while making people’s lives better.

Do you have other ideas for how to address any of the four elements of engagement?  Let me know!

Selected Reference.

Harter, J. K., Schmidt, F. L., and Keyes, C. L. M. (2003). Well-Being in the workplace and its relationship to business outcomes: A review of the Gallup studies. In Keyes, C. L. M., & Haidt, J. (Eds.), Flourishing: The positive person and the good life (pp. 205-224). American Psychological Association.–Well-BeingInTheWorkplace.pdf   Gallup® and Q12® are Trademarks of Gallup, Inc.


  1. Many leaders in organizations simply lack the time and energy to engage employees on a personal level the way that is necessary to growth to occur. People thus must be regarded as “cogs in a wheel” where basic characteristics are viewed, building a picture in the employer’s mind that may not at all be the true picture of the potential and capacity of the person. Our society as a whole has become more machine-like. It is much less people oriented in general, and functioning within an almost “hive mentality” Evidence of this is the loss of communication within neighborhoods and communities through various factors. This influences if not is the deciding factor in how employees and employers will interact in a workplace. The electronic cyber world is where people interact on both a business and social level; where an identity that may not at all be genuine can be built. Products are not deemed valuable or useful because of an individual’s contribution, but by it’s mere functionality and worth as part of a system that sees the individual as replaceable and unimportant.

    • Thanks David. The ideas in this article don’t take long to implement. But they do take some time, awareness and willingness. So much is expected of people in most organizations, and they are so stretched thin. Those who do carve out the time though, will see increases in productivity and happiness in the long run.

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