"The harnessing of organisation members' selves to their work roles; in engagement, people employ and express themselves physically, cognitively, and emotionally during role performances." – William A. Kahn
I love Kahn’s definition of employee engagement. In particular, linking engagement to the "self" and to our "work roles" stands out. When we know our "self," we make the link to our "work roles" and that truly engages us. The knowing our self is the journey part. We think we know it when we pick a major. We think we know it when we get our first job and when we choose a career path. Our knowledge, however, expands through experience and our engaged "self" can look different than we originally imagined.
There are several articles published on employee engagement every day. Much of them focus primarily on the leader’s role for engagement, but the employee also has just as much responsibility to be engaged in the workplace.
What would it look like if we spent more time learning what truly satisfies us on a daily basis? What skills do we need to be exhibiting to hit a 10 on personal engagement? What makes us tick? What do you never tire of doing for 8, 10, 12 hours a day? Take "work" out of the picture for a moment and ask yourself some inward facing questions, such as:
• Do I need movement?
• Do I need people?
• Do I need autonomy?
• Do I need creativity?
• Do I need multiple projects?
The answer to each of these questions should be yes. In addition to these, there are some outward questions you should ask yourself that are critical to understanding how we become engaged, including:
• What talents and/or skills do I need to contribute to feel I've made a difference?
• How hard do I need to work to feel I've made an impact?
• What can I contribute to feel more engaged on a daily basis?
Spending time to work on ourselves will bring a lot more happiness into the workplace for the employer and employee. Currently only 9% of people in the United States are in their dream jobs, which is about one out of 11 people. Focusing on engaging ourselves at work can also help save money. Gallup estimates that actively disengaged employees cost the U.S. about $550 billion in lost productivity each year.
I think one of the biggest gifts we can give any organization is to be "at cause" for ourselves instead of "at effect" of the organization, and have the confidence to communicate our needs and contributions in a way all parties can understand. Just like in any partnership, the clearer we are on ourselves, the less guessing, the less assumptions, the more needs are met, and of course, engagement increases.