(Editor’s Note: This is the second in a two-part series on employee engagement.)

Now let’s discuss some options for increasing the level of positive engagement in your work environment.

Option 1: Leverage Shared Responsibility

Most agree that employers and employees share responsibility for the factors that create an engaging work environment. In a recent survey conducted by Training magazine and The Ken Blanchard Companies, individual respondents saw it as their primary responsibility to improve the factors of:

  • Meaningful Work
  • Autonomy
  • Workload Balance
  • Task Variety
  • Collaboration
  • Connectedness with Leader
  • Connectedness with Colleagues

They saw their managers as primarily responsible for improving the factors of Feedback, Procedural Justice (Fairness), and Performance Expectations, and they saw senior leadership and systems as responsible for Growth and Distributive Justice.

It is critical that employees understand where they have the power to control their own destiny, and when they need to speak up if a system is broken and needs to be changed.

Option 2: Leverage Social Networks

Social networks help with engagement because they facilitate an employee’s ability to publish content and connect easily with co-workers and managers.  The latest in intranet technology is what I call a super-intranet, which is designed to be a welcoming source of information and support as well as a hub for real-time interaction.

A wonderful example of a well-executed super-intranet is NASA’s Spacebook.  Launched in 2009, Spacebook is a professional network that lets NASA people around the world interface with each other through the use of user profiles, forums, groups, and social tagging. Employees have their own pages where they can publish their own status, share files, follow others’ activity, and join communities of interest.  Spacebook aids the discovery of new ideas and approaches and encourages knowledge transfer as shifting demographics threaten NASA’s ranks.

Option 3: Leverage Your Virtual Teams

Given the number of virtual employees in most modern organizations, paying special attention to their engagement is essential.  The most effective virtual teams have access to sophisticated collaboration tools so that project work is efficient and seamless, and they use instant messaging, videoconferencing and super-intranets like Spacebook to converse in real time.

The best virtual teams have also met in person more than once. Because they have had the opportunity to build in-person relationships, they are less likely to experience misunderstandings and breeches of trust.  Engaged virtual teams also know and communicate with their manager well.  Weekly check-ins and occasional visits support the virtual team member’s affiliation with and loyalty to the organization.

Option 4: Leverage Customized Career Paths

Employers are beginning to recognize that one progressive and linear path in which all employees move from Points A to B to C it out of sync with many individuals’ desire for a life cycle-focused career.  For example, many aging Baby Boomers are opting to dial-back and work part-time instead of fully retiring so that they can continue to contribute brainpower while setting aside time for health and family concerns.

Deloitte believes that long-term employee engagement and retention will result from a new method of career design it calls mass career customization.  Through a combination of climbs, lateral moves, and planned descents, individuals are able to pursue personal and professional goals while remaining tied to the organization.  Although career customization sounds like it would be difficult to implement, it really starts one manager to employee conversation at a time.

What are your engagement hacks?  What do you do as an individual and as a manager to keep your team energized and committed?

(Photo credit: Businesswoman Drawing Out Innovation via Shutterstock)

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