The Employee Engagement Network

Trying to change the work culture in a manufacturing enviroment by going from the traditional manufacturing model to a cell concept or total team involvement.

As we start to prepare our global compass, the one question that constantly comes up is very simply "How do you tell if an employee is engaged or disengaged" What are the characteristics that they demonstrate? and how do you evalutate the behaviors (traits) they demonstrate in concert with their technical abilities, to run packaging equiptment or drive a forklift etc.?

This may be a very elementary question but this is also very new for me.  Comments/suggestion or suggested readings are very much appreciated...Thank you

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Your comments are bang on!
When people care about what they do their performance becomes phenomenal.
Nobody can pay enough to make someone care but we can create the environment that allows them to choose to care.

Peter A Hunter

It's interesting to note that "internalised caring about work" is what separates engaged employees from the others. But, is that enough to qualify and promote EE?.

How do we manifest that at the workplace when business leadership "cares" for only the short term bottomline profits. There were many people in AIG who "cared" in doing their best as required at work. Hence, technically they were all "engaged". I am not sure where they fit in?. What about those guys who got paid hefty bonuses from the tax payers savings?. Can we still say, "Nobody can pay enough to make someone care".

I believe engagement is a lot more than just "caring". It MUST be connected to values, lest we welcome the ugly consequences. Is it about creating the right environment or getting the right people on the bus?.

I am lost for words why would a company not "care" to explore the state of EE, given the much established findings of its significance and role in improving workplace productivity.

Is it "one man's steak is another's poison". The paradox is like a smoker saying he cares for his health.

All this "care" has to be explicitly manifested and validated through multiple sources, not just relying on surveys but cross referencing against other indicators as those listed by Marion.
Yuvarajah - you ask "How do we manifest that at the workplace when business leadership "cares" for only the short term bottomline profits?"

I believe that the simple answer is that we don't; it's not possible. Attempts to look like you're caring about people when profit is the single focus manifest as tangible incongruence - and that disengages people faster than anything else.

I think that the question at the core of 'employee engagement' is really "how (or perhaps when) will be broaden the purpose of business to include the notion of benefit and not just profit?". The reason is quite simple: just about everyone knows that profit alone isn't truly meaningful or satisfying.

This whole subject of employee engagement invites us to re-think the foundation upon which all our ideas of work and growth are founded. And why not? After all, there are strong reasons to believe that things aren't really working the way we've been doing them thus far.
In a Lean work environment, success starts at the top, or management, level. Without total engagement from this level, some people may hesitate or even pull back.

Another thing to consider is how much, or what kind of training is being given to each employee? I previously worked in a consulting company where Lean training and consulting was well recepted. We iniitated Lean office practices, also, and once people saw that their suggestions were being initiated by management, they began to feel a sense of ownership.

While these are more global approaches, these may be the reason why disengagement may be happening. Good luck.
I'm a huge believer in that you can get the team to create the meaures by which they feel engaged/disengaged - make it part of the design of the engagement strategy. You can have overarching measures that you apply but at a micro level it will be more powerful. In terms of productivity it's easier if it's a sales team than say an support function. But do you have safety stats that would play into behaviours?
Ron: I worked in a company that uses self-directed teams. The members of the cells interview candidates in the recruitment process, establish rules and procedures and evaluate peers. And they (the workers in the plant) have a great knowledge about who are engaged or not.
I attended a very interesting webinar today put on by the LinkedHR Professional Development Webinar Series on this topic entitled: "The Perfect Match: the 10Ms of Employee Engagement." The guest speaker was Dr. Cristina Wildermuth and she addressed your question. If you go her website and click on Articles & Publications you'll see an article about the 10Ms plus other articles of interest about employee engagement.
I am sure there are many right answers to this question but in my work in the area of improving safety performance, some of the micro-level signs of engagement I have observed are:
Initiative - people voluntarily confront risk and take actions to eliminate it.
Responsibility - people take personal control of imoprving ssafety
Follow rules - people voluntarily follow rules and will point out when someone else is not
Enthusiasm - people exhibit a high level of energy for safefty
Willingness to give feedback - people give more feedaback on average.
Receptivity to feedback - people show a surprsing level of openess to feedback
Less defensiveness -
Heightened level of awareness
More communication and involvement in meetings
More cooperation
In fact if these symoptoms don't emerge, then you are in trouble re improving safety. Anyway, there you have it.

Keith Owen


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