Deeper Engagement Through Values

Upon hearing the word ‘engagement’, we usually ask, “Who’s getting married?” But of course, the word has other meanings. Anyone who’s spent time in human resources over the past few years is almost certainly familiar with the term, “employee engagement.”

Disagreement About It

When you read or hear the phrase, “employee engagement,” you may feel as though you’re watching The Princess Bride and listening to the famous words uttered by Inigo Montoya: “You keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means.”

Discussing and evaluating employee engagement is very important, of course, but there is a great deal of disagreement among practitioners about what it really means. More importantly, there is disagreement about how to make it work for the company in such a way that you surround yourself a fully engaged workforce.

Unfamiliar Term

Only 49 percent of all U.S. workers are familiar with the concept of employee engagement, according to a recent study by Modern Survey, while just 63 percent of managers know what engagement means. These numbers could lead to real opportunity because engaged employees perform better, and better performance equals a healthier bottom line.

The question is, how can an organization implement this concept in practical terms?

Understanding Company Values

Thankfully, there’s Ann Rhoades and the team at People Ink, along with her book, Built on Values. Ann appeared in May 2011 at the Maine HR Convention, and also at the Strategic HR New England conference at New Hampshire’s Mount Washington Hotel.

Ann often speaks about building the culture of your organization on values, but what is the real meaning? The reality is that turning your company’s values into a company philosophy takes a lot of hard work and emotional effort. Honesty and reliability are important, but it’s about more than that. It’s about getting to the heart of your mission, describing how you want the world to see you and then implementing actions to help bring about those results.

Outline the company’s mission and the essential beliefs that drive that mission. You’ll be more than halfway there if you can get the appropriate stakeholders together, from senior management to front-line workers, and help them understand the organization’s values, as well as the types of behaviors which embody those values.

Focus On Behavior

It is clear that defining those behaviors that are critical in emphasizing “the words on the wall” is key to building a strong understanding of what a values-based business is. It is the setting of behavioral expectations which will allow employees to clearly understand your expectations for them. The best part is that the rewards are exponential. This sense of a positive workplace philosophy will not only allow your customers or clients to receive the best possible service, it will also influence your employees to participate even more, creating a continuous cycle of engagement and success.

The most difficult part is defining your own unique employment brand and value plan, focusing on specific identifiable values, and then implementing the plan to bring about the behaviors which exemplify those values. While it may not be easy, it is certainly worth it.