Organizations constantly strive to enhance employee engagement. What does an engaged employee look like? Let’s consider the example of Cyrus, an employee working with an organization for a decade. He is loyal, speaks highly about the company, is committed, comes to work every day, does not complain, works hard and puts in efforts to do a good job of the tasks assigned to him. What will his scores on a typical engagement survey look like – most likely high.
If most of the employees in an organization are like Cyrus, an employee engagement survey may throw up satisfactory results. Will an organization be satisfied if most of its employees are like Cyrus – loyal, hardworking, committed, talking highly about the organization? More importantly, can an organization today afford such a situation?
One of my ex-bosses would have called this a rhetorical question. I can imagine the sarcasm in his voice while he says, “Please don’t ask rhetorical questions”.
Of course organizations need engaged employees, but it’s not enough. The market dynamics are ever changing, we are operating in VUCA world. In order to succeed, organizations need employees who are energized, not just engaged.
There is a distinct difference between engaged and energized employees. Energized employees have high sense of urgency to get things done, they do not wait to be told on what needs to be done. They have a strong alignment to the purpose and feel that they have a significant impact on their jobs, bring their best thinking and ideas and strive to achieve break-through results through innovative thinking. Their energy is palpable and infectious.
Energy, while being an internal force emanating from within the employees – can be managed; it can be sustained, enhanced or depleted by the work environment. I am confident, most of us reading this statement can relate to it. There are environments where we have felt energized and otherwise; environments created by leaders and managers, albeit unwittingly. So, the question to ask is – are my employees energized? How is the work environment and culture, leaders and the managers enhancing their energy and not depleting it?
While there are many aspects that play a strong role in moving employees from engaged to energized, listed here are three key ones. First, the ability of the leaders (and the managers alike) to spark others to deliver extraordinary performance. The key is about getting employees excited about the purpose and how they are truly making a difference. This has to be authentic, not superficial. Second, challenging them and truly empowering them to deliver the results that they are excited about. Thirdly, allowing employees to constantly learn. It has the potential to become a virtuous cycle; enhancing their belief in future growth, as a result passion and excitement.