Team Work Culture

The Language of Engagement

By: Karin Volo
Chief Joy Bringer, Evoloshen Academy

“I love my job!”
“I can’t wait for Monday again!”
“I’m doing what I was born to do!”
“I am living my life’s purpose!”
“I don’t consider this work—it feels like play!”
“Where did the day go? I got so much done!”
“This is the best company to work for!”

How often do you hear these types of statements? Or perhaps we should ask have you EVER heard anyone saying these things?

Within highly engaged organizations, statements like these are actually pretty common. Employees at these companies love their work and are deeply, emotionally connected to their co-workers, their company’s purpose, and their own passions. Their values are aligned so that they can easily live and breath the company values since they are a part of who they are authentically.

And what happens to the culture and the performance at companies like these? They tend to be highly productive, profitable, and making a positive difference in the world on some level.

There are many ways to understand and begin to tackle engagement. Achievers has created the 50 Most Engaged Workplaces Awards to recognize and showcase organizations that are truly making employee engagement work for them. They have defined eight parameters for engagement that include: Culture, Leadership, Accountability & Performance, Professional & Personal Growth, Communication, Vision & Values, Rewards & Recognition, and Corporate Social Responsibility. All of these areas are great places to start tracking and improving your level of engagement.

In doing the research for our book Engage! we found many examples of companies that are demonstrating a whole new way of doing business, innovative companies like Virgin, PUMA, Southwest Airlines, Zappos, Achievers, and many more. But most of all, we found that it is through company culture where you can work actively with principles of engagement to make a positive impact. To paraphrase Tony Hsieh, the founder of Zappos, culture is to employees what brand is to customers and the market. Or as management guru Peter Drucker famously put it, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” But the quote I love best is from Simon Sinek, TED speaker and author of the book Start With Why, who said: Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.” No matter how you say it, it is clear that companies with highly engaged employees and a culture of engagement are consistently among the most successful, innovative and inspiring organizations on the planet.

In Engage!, we defined the formula for creating highly sustainable engagement through the following five Cultural Keys:

  1. Collaboration – taking teamwork to the next level and having a sense of belonging and family
  2. Creativity – allowing the innovation and creative ideas to flow from within the organization
  3. Connection – creating a deeper emotional connection both to the employees and the customers through the bigger purpose and values
  4. Celebration – focusing on what is going well, celebrating the small wins as well and the big ones, showing appreciation and recognition
  5. Contribution – giving back on some level that is related to the business that gives meaning and significance to the employees and makes the business do good in the world.

When all of the 5 KCI’s (Key Cultural Indicators) are high, there seems to be a powerful positive force or energy within a company that accelerates productivity and drives the business forward.

Whether you refer to Achievers’ Eight Elements of Employee Engagement™ or to our 5 KCI’s, you can see how closely both “languages of engagement” correlate with each other—these are similar messages using different words to describe the same essentials.

Whatever words you choose to use, actively working on engagement is sound business strategy. It is possible to systematize it and it is essential to continually work with it consciously. At times, you may see examples of zany engagement activities (team-building exercises anyone?), but there IS a method to making work fun and bringing out the best in your people. And when you are able to do that consistently, you tap into an often under-utilized resource—your employees—who, working together, bring success to your company.

Working actively to build a culture of engagement is the first step in building an environment where your employees and your business can thrive. Your employees will be excited to come to work on Monday mornings and you’ll often hear what is music to any employer’s ears: “I love my job!”

Come see Karin Volo at the 7th annual Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) Conference from September 13-14 where she will be running the panel discussion with the 50 Most Engaged Workplaces Elite 8 winners on employee engagement. Learn more about the activities happening at ACE this year and find out how to register by reading the latest event blog post.

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About Karin Volo
Karin Volo
Karin is an expert in engagement, career, personal, and organizational development- aka the Chief Joy Bringer. She is a co-author of the international best selling book, Engage!  With 15+ years experience working with international Fortune 500 companies on two continents, she has insights on business building, cultural transformation, and high performance. She is the best selling author of 1,352 Days: An Inspirational Journey From Jail To Joy, the Bringing Joy children’s series, a regular blogger on Huffington Post, a faculty member at the Institute for Inspired Organizational Cultures, and an expert judge on employee engagement in both the UK and the US.

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