Employee Self-Engagement – the missing element

Every business seems to focus on engagement of their employees, knowing it will increase individual productivity, innovation, customer focus and organisational culture and profitability. That is why organizations take it seriously and initiate in tracking engagement scores, action plans towards key identified areas, and try and reduce employee demotivational causes and increase engagement. The employees watch this focus on engagement and demand better working conditions, casual dress days, teambuilding events and free food. However, let’s be clear, it is not the company who is responsible for engaging their employees.

Frederick Herzberg and his well-known research on motivation and demotivation outlines that the factors involved in producing job satisfation are separate and distinct from the factors that lead to job dissatisfaction. The current approach to employee engagement assumes that certain external factors are causing disengagement. It assumes that employees are automatically engaged when we remove negative external factors and replace them with positive ones. In line with the Herzberg insights we would like to add an important element that is often not included and misunderstood – Employee Self-Engagement.

We as authors of “Full Of Life” propose that each employee takes 100% responsibility for his or her self-engagement by essentially living a full or fulfilling life. Which includes understanding who you are, what you want and working towards this. It is about linking the individual to work which fits with their ambition, strengths, skills and expectations.

Each manager takes responsibility to provide the support for Self-Engagement of his or her team and each leader takes responsibility for his or her department or organisation, to build an Employee Self-Engagement culture. Some of the activities suggested could involve:

Team Retreats

Give multifunctional teams a few days or a week to come up with an idea, work on it, and present a finished product to the entire company.

Improvement Projects

Ask employee teams to come up with key projects to improve the organisation in some way.

Their View – They Vote

Teams often vote that side projects are one of the best things to get involved in. Teams should be cross-functional because you end up with ideas that never would have come about in a typical workday environment. Some of the ideas are game-changers directly impacting the bottom line.

Work Matching

Most people want some form of choice and voice in what they do at work. Robert Burgelman and Joseph Bower have shown a clear relationship between the autonomy of both individuals and units, and the growth of innovative ideas and ventures within companies. Kenneth Thomas and others have emphasised the impact that freedom can have on empowerment and motivation. Essentially asking and trusting employees to think and act independently on behalf of the organisation.