Employee Engagement: What is it and how can I tell if I’m engaged at work?

Maria Martens County Programs

Take a moment to reflect on your current work practices.

  • Do you find value or passion in your work? Is it rewarding?
  • Are the relationships with your coworkers important to you?
  • When serving customers/clients, do you go the extra mile to satisfy their needs?
  • Are you invested in your organization’s success?
  • Do you believe in your organization’s mission, vision, and values? Wait, do you even know your organization’s mission, vision, and values?

These are questions you might ask yourself to determine if you are truly engaged at work. Sorry, one more question – Why is it important to know if you are engaged at work?

On a personal level, being engaged at work makes it seem less like work. You enjoy, thrive, find meaning in your tasks, and perform well. From a business perspective, engaged employees drive organizational performance. As a public servant, you can increase other’s confidence, satisfaction, trust, and support for the organization. Engaged employees put their cognitive, physical, and emotional energies into their work. These are their discretionary efforts that go above and beyond just good enough! By putting these energies into one’s work, employees promote behavior that is focused and mindful, creating increased connections with others.

So, how can you ensure you remain engaged at work?

Well, there are two things to consider, what is and what is not in your control. First, there are conditions that are not in your control, but in the control of the system hierarchy such as management. These three conditions are:

  1. Psychological Meaningfulness is having a reason to engage. Think about the motivating potential of one’s job as determined by the job characteristics. Is there challenge or variance in the job duties? Is there clarity and autonomy? Are there meaningful work interactions and connections made between coworkers?
  • Psychological Safety is having the freedom and safety to engage at work, rather than focusing on protecting oneself. Employees need to be able to trust that the way decisions are made within the organization or team are transparent and fair. If trust and fairness do not exist, engagement cannot exist.
  • Psychological Availability is having the capacity to engage. This means ensuring there is work-life balance and providing employees with learning opportunities and feedback that allows them to feel confident about investing themselves fully into their work.

Second, think about what you can control. Within each of these three psychological conditions, I invite you to fill out the attached checklist to examine if you find meaningfulness, safety, or availability in your role. If you find that it is present for you, that is wonderful; however, learn to be an intentional resource for others that may be struggling in finding their personal power and adaptability.

If it is not present for you, then you have just identified an opportunity for growth. How might you tackle it? Who would you need to talk to? What changes would need to occur in your team or organization for them to be present? Primarily, however what changes need to occur in you?

Remember that change is a process, and it doesn’t happen overnight. Use this tool as a first step in examining whether you or your staff are engaged in a crucial and meaningful way.

Use the Checklist as a first step in examining whether you or your staff are engaged in a crucial and meaningful way.

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