A Different Take on Employee Engagement

Gallup defines engaged employees as those who are involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their workplace. To find a way to measure this, Gallup studied tens of millions of people and determined that just 12 questions (the Gallup Q12) can provide effective metrics on employee engagement. Yes, engagement can be quantified and yes, you can track how your company is doing at it over time. We run engagement surveys that include the Q12 for most of our clients as fodder for their annual strategic planning. After all, what gets measured, gets managed.

But the Q12, while statistically sound and actionable, have always felt lopsided to us. They speak to what the employer could or should do differently, but the phrasing doesn’t empower the employees to engage themselves. What about the employees’ role in increasing their own engagement at work?

For example, one of the questions asks, “At work, do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day?” This question only empowers the employer, implying that the company should provide the opportunity. Another way to think about that question is, “At work, do you seek the opportunity to do what you do best every day?” This question empowers the employee. They can take action if their score is low. Another question from the Q12 asks, “Is there someone at work who encourages your development?” This question could be reframed to, “Have you sought a mentor and taken ownership of your professional development?” It’s all about the perspective.

This idea was presented in a lecture we heard from Marshall Goldsmith, author of What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful! The employee-centered approach to engagement resonated strongly with us.

Do you want to build more engagement in your job for yourself? If so, rate yourself on a scale of 1 – 5 for each of the following questions.

Over the past three months, have I done my best to:

  1. Set clear goals?
  2. Make progress toward goal achievement?
  3. Be happy?
  4. Find meaning in my work?
  5. Build positive relationships?
  6. Be fully engaged?

Write down your answers and the date you completed this activity. For any scores less than five, book an hour in your calendar to develop an action plan to improve your score. Then schedule some time three months from now when you will measure your performance again.

A more engaged workforce leads to happier customers, fewer complaints, lower staff turnover, increased productivity, reduced absenteeism, increased profit…no wonder the business literature has exploded with information about how a company can increase employee engagement. But, whether you’re the CEO or the mail clerk, wouldn’t you just want to be more engaged without the company forcing it upon you? Ask yourself those six questions and develop your plan. What is there to lose?

Bellrock is a benchmarking and change management firm based in Vancouver, Canada. If you found value in this article, please share it with your networks.

Written By:
Tara Landes

Tara Landes is the Founder and President of Bellrock. She has spent over 20 years consulting and training in small to medium-sized enterprises. A sought-after speaker on a wide range of business topics, Tara has delivered workshops and seminars at conferences and industry associations across Canada. Tara obtained a BA (Honours) in Political Science from the University of Western Ontario (UWO) and earned an MBA from UWO's Richard Ivey School of Business.

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