Employee engagement is top-of-mind for many business executives. Studies are showing that organizations who invest in their people to create an engaging workplace outperform other organizations, leading to greater profitability. But to understand how to better engage individuals at your organization, first understand what it means.

What exactly does employee engagement mean?

We can define it by the behaviors of actively engaged employees. For example, an engaged employee works with passion and energy and typically feels connected to the outcome of their work. They try to solve problems and initiate improvements. They work with their head, their hands, and their hearts. Sounds like the type of people I want to work with.

How do you engage employees?

To engage your employees, you must cast a vision. Ask yourself: what is your mission and why does your organization exist? If you can get employees to believe in your vision and mission, or even a leader within your organization, you are one step closer to engagement.

According the book Drive by Daniel Pink, all employees need three things to be engaged:

  1. Autonomy. Employees need to have some control over their work. Depending on the job, you can provide this in several ways.
    • Give employees a goal or project and let them figure out how to get it done.
    • Allow flexible hours. Do they have to be in the office from 8:00-5:00, or can they work another set of hours that allows them some freedom?
    • Allow employees to work from home if possible or in a different area of the office.
  2. Mastery. People want to be good at their jobs, so think of ways to help them grow. Determine what tools, training, or professional development you can provide to help employees be successful. Allow them to participate on a project team, provide additional training, or encourage them to participate in a leadership role with a local nonprofit. Keep in mind, there are other ways to grow without climbing a career ladder. Instead, think of it as a trellis.
  3. Purpose. People want to contribute to something bigger and feel they are adding value. Help employees understand the importance of what they do and how it contributes to the organizational goals or mission.

Finally, remember to view your employees as individual human beings and understand that other areas of their life (i.e., social, financial, physical, community) can affect how they show up to work each day. If one area of an individual’s life is way out of balance, it will be difficult for that person to perform at their best.

Find ways to support your employees in other areas of their life such as providing learning sessions on financial management, social events with co-workers, and wellness and community service opportunities. I’ll be surprised if you don’t see an increase in engagement, improvement in productivity and ultimately, additional profits.