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Employee Engagement: What is an employer to do?

Research is showing us that what drives engagement is different for different groups, whether that be generations, sector, gender, or position. However, a study completed by the Kingston University for the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), found that two factors were most important in driving up engagement, for all groups. Meaningfulness of work and employee voice emerged as the most important drivers, regardless of group or sector. The third most important driver was the way in which senior managers communicate with employees.

Here are three ways to increase employee engagement:

1. Connect to the meaning underlying the work

We want to know that our work matters. That we are making a difference. That someone or something is benefiting. Understanding the meaning underlying our work is key to being fully engaged and to experiencing spirit at work.

All work has meaning. While it is easier to see the meaning underlying a public sector position or a job of service such as teaching, nursing or social work, it is important to dig for the meaning in all jobs. Employers can help employees make the link between their work and the broader organizational goals and to connect with the organization's deeper purpose.

Appreciating the contribution we make through our work goes a long way to increase our spirit at work and our sense of well-being. In my workshops, I help employees uncover the deeper meaning of their work, why it matters to them, and to appreciate themselves and their contribution. I also help them make the connection between their work and the deeper purpose of the organization.

2. Ensure that employee's have a voice.

Regardless of what role we play within the organization, we want to be acknowledged and heard. Not surprisingly, being heard and having the ability to share your views upwards was the second engagement driver. We want to be involved. To participate. To be able to express our views. And to know that our opinions will be taken seriously by our immediate supervisor and senior managers.

There are several ways to give employees a voice. The most important is to create an environment where employees feel like they can contribute openly and honestly and that their opinions matter. Then, ask for their opinion and ideas. Give them an opportunity to participate in planning sessions. Ask for advice in meetings. Make sure that you let them know they are being heard.

3. Share the vision and make communication a priority.

I believe that the key role of senior management in any organization is to create a compelling vision for the organization. What is the purpose of this organization? What do we stand for? Where are we going? The next step is to share the vision and deeper purpose of the organization with employees and to inspire employees to fulfill that purpose and achieve the vision. To connect with the vision and see how their work contributes.

Communication is key. Almost every employee survey points to concern with communication. Yet, for employees to be fully engaged, they need to experience communication. Both ways. Earlier we spoke about the need for employees to have a voice. Here we are talking about information coming to the employee and senior management being open, approachable and transparent.

Want to learn more? Sign up for our monthly newsletter where we will explore this topic in more detail. Read Rethinking Your Work: How to Get to the Heart of What Matters and learn how to create spirit at work.

Val Kinjerski, PhD, is a leading authority in the field of employee engagement and on the topic of “spirit at work.” A consultant, agent of change and inspirational speaker, she helps companies and organizations increase employee retention and boost productivity by reigniting employees’ love for their work. Check out her Spirit at Work Program and Inspired Leadership training at Val is the author of Rethinking Your Work and Rethinking Your Work Guidebook. Available now at and .


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