Solving the employee engagement equation

Ideally an engaged employee will feel like his or her working conditions meet their expectations every day.

Is it reasonable to think people feel this way all day, every day? Probably not. And engagement is a hard thing to track effectively, if an organization does it at all. The 2009 “Engage for Success” report by David MacLeod and Nita Clarke shows that many organizations don’t track engagement or if they do, they’re not 100% confident that measurement is successful.

Engaged employees are essential to the flow of new ideas, thus providing a real business value. So if we know that it’s important and it should be tracked, how does an organization A) foster an engaged workforce, and B) see the ROI from that engagement?

One way, according to writer Helen Giles in HR Magazine, is to ask employees if they’re motivated to contribute. You might “include a handful of classic engagement indicator questions in your staff survey and average up the positive responses to these to arrive at the percentage of your employees who love the organisation and want to go the extra mile,” she says.

Inherently engagement is a “people problem,” one that can be aided by managers that enable and support employees, fostering their voice. Many organizations develop that voice by providing an enterprise-wide social business system to allow interaction between employees, which is where the ROI comes in.

An online system has to be able to tie employees’ social conversations to business objectives if that platform is going to provide value. Put another way, organizational leadership can set the agenda and topics for discussions through broad challenges, then nurture small ideas into bigger projects or analyze existing intellectual capital to find the right people to champion projects.

And if a company is holding its innovation activities separately from its social platforms (as many now do), a link between the two will help qualify those conversations and provide some data that can be tracked and measured.

All of this needs to be supported by platforms that can handle contributions at a large scale, without having to defer a large crowd. Internal experts can then monitor those contributions and help them become larger ideas or projects that can be applied toward an innovation pipeline.

If people are able to follow their contributions as they evolve in discussions, these people will see purpose in participating in the conversation, ultimately making them want to come back and contribute again.

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