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Employee Engagement

Engagement defined


If hard-working, nose to the grindstone does not describe engagement, what does?  Engaged employees are doing the right things, in the right way at the right time and for the right reasons.  Well that leaves a lot to the imagination, so let’s use a simpler metaphor.  Engaged employees act as if they own the business.  A little thought and you will see the beauty in that simple definition of engagement.


Technically the working definition of engagement, at the academic level by Schaufeli, Salanova, Gonzalez-Roma and Bakker, they said:


     “Engagement is defined as a positive, fulfilling, work-related state of mind that is characterized by vigor, dedication and absorption.    

      Vigor is characterized by high levels of energy and mental resilience while working, the willingness to invest effort in one’s work, and the

      persistence even in the face of difficulties.  Dedication is characterized by a sense of significance, enthusiasm, inspiration, pride and

      challenge.  Absorption is characterized by being fully concentrated and deeply engrossed in one’s work. (Schaufeli, et al, 2002).

Note the references to “persistence even in the face of difficulties” and “inspiration, pride and challenge”.  These are characteristics entrepreneurs must have.  But these qualities are outside the typical job scope of the average worker who can get good marks simply by “coloring between the lines” and doing it well, while he “gets along” with his co-workers.


The limiting factor to culture change


The “means to lean” has three criteria.  They are:

  • Problem solving to reach the Ideal State

  • Through the total elimination of waste

  • Using a fully engaged workforce


So if you are attempting a lean transformation or any type of cultural change we normally find there is a decent complement of problem solving skills among the workforce.  Likewise, we find that companies have an ability to focus in on the key wastes that are holding back their performance.  Where they are lacking in properly executing their cultural changing initiative is in being able to activate a fully engaged workforce.  The Annual Gallup Engagement survey shows that engagement levels in the working population in recent years have been in the 30% range.  Although having 7 of every 10 workers in your workplace being “not engaged or actively disengaged” sounds terrible; these numbers are up a little from prior years.  What is worse is that engagement in the manufacturing sector is at 25%. 


How will engagement improve your business metrics?

Yet at the same time, Gallup data also show there is a significant impact of having good engagement, specifically:

Of note to those interested in the bottom line effects is the 22% improvement in profitability and the 21% improvement in productivity.  Many of the other numbers are even more impressive in terms of magnitude, but might have lesser bottom-line impact, depending on the company’s particular business situation.

Overall this makes a compelling case to improve engagement.  And it will become even more compelling when we make the case that you get it for free, when you enact the correct management practices.

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