You Think You’re Engaged at Work…But What Does Engaged Mean?

One of the most difficult benefits to measure in the modern workplace is the level of employee engagement. First, what does engaged mean

You come to work. You answer the phone. You’re helpful, friendly, hard-working, cooperative (after coffee)… What more can an employer ask for?


Well, believe it or not, you’re probably not engaged. In fact, only 29% of people are actually actively engaged at work (54% are not engaged, and 17% actively disengaged…those are the troublemakers who distract other engaged employees from getting their own work done) via the National Business Research Institute, Inc.  


You might not be engaged at work if:

  1. You don’t know why you’re doing what you’re doing (or perhaps you’ve simply forgotten).
  2. It isn’t clear to you what your responsibilities are.
  3. You feel as though your day-to-day tasks have such a minute impact on the company that they don’t require your full effort.
  4. When you do make an effort, it goes unnoticed.
  5. You feel that you’re capable of handling more than what you’ve been given (i.e., you’re just plain bored).


How do I amp up my engagement?

Speaking up! Ask yourself, “Truly, what does engaged mean to me?” and own what you come up with. By respectfully critiquing a process that might not facilitate engagement for you as an employee, you’ve already taken the first step toward being actively engaged at work. Heavy emphasis on respectfully…the *respectfully* squeaky wheel gets the grease.


Also, don’t shy away from trusting and investing in management strategies. They say a workman is only as good as his tools, but that’s assuming the workman uses all of the tools at his disposal. Individual employees are expected to act on opportunities to maintain his or her own engagement. 


WHY? Why do you care about being engaged? You’re getting the job done.


That is the million-dollar question, right?


George Jones said it best: If you don’t, somebody else will. In a competitive market (is there any other kind?), even the smallest fraction of an effort can have outstanding effects on company value, internal and external perceptions of company health, quality of product, employee retention, and beyond. Manager’s and decision makers that impact the outcome of your job security are looking for people that are going to magnify positive outcomes and returns. If you aren’t engaged your work will suffer, as will your potential for growth at a company.


If you own a company or manage employees…

You need to talk with your reports and understand what does engaged mean to them. As I mentioned before, a workman is only as good as his tools. In this case, you are the tool; Management plays an essential role in creating, maintaining, and growing this engagement by offering the proper “tools” of engagement.


A great starting place for management to increase employee engagement is by…

  • Embracing the “10 C’s” of engagement: Connect, Career, Clarity, Convey, Contribute, Control, Collaborate, Credibility and Confidence. Each of these require an obliging and supportive leadership. 
  • Creating opportunities for employees who seek growth. 


Do you feel engaged? Do you managed disengaged employees? What are some practices you’ve seen work to reel them back in? Let me know in the comments below.