How engaged are you at work? Do you knock on your boss’s door, complain that you’re not feeling engaged at work, and demand that he does something about it? Of course not. The process begins with you, not your employer.
An organization can provide air hockey tables in the break room or casual Fridays, but even the greatest of perks can’t magically convert unhappy employees into happy ones. YOU are the best predictor of your own engagement.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “Wherever you go, there you are?” Remember, you are the only constant that you take with you from situation to situation. The auto-disengaged person in one organization will be the auto-disengaged person in her next organization.
You are responsible for your ability or inability to engage, regardless of your position within your organization or your organization’s efforts to “get employees engaged.” The truth is that some people will find a way to engage no matter what. The interesting thing here is that workplace engagement often spills over to home-life engagement. While we may try to separate work and personal lives, the fact is that we are whole individuals, rather than tidy segments; home life, community life, work life, social life, and so forth all flow into one another. If you are disengaged at work, chances are you’ll be disengaged in other areas of your life as well.
If you’re saying to yourself, “This company isn’t an engaging place to work” take a look in the mirror. Engagement is a 50-50 proposition between employer and employee. But the individual has as much power to drive employer engagement initiatives as the top decision makers do. You can’t wait for your employer to come to you, because doing so presupposes that your employer (1) fully understands engagement; (2) realizes that you and others are not engaged; and (3) knows the unique factors that will engage you, the individual.
Remember, the employee engagement process begins with you, the employee, not your employer. To assist you and your fellow employees in accurately measuring your current levels of engagement, we’ve create a free tool that can be used anytime and as often as you choose. It’s called the ENGAGEMENT MAGIC® Self-Assessment. MAGIC is the acronym for the five essential keys needed to obtain true employee engagement: Meaning, Autonomy, Growth, Impact, and Connection.
Take 10 minutes and dig into the assessment. When you know more about how engaged you are, you’ll have a much clearer idea of how engaged you wish to become and what to do about it.
Employee Engagement is a Spectrum
Employee engagement is not absolute. It is a spectrum, not an absolute state. You are not going to feel engaged all the time in your work or personal life. Can you imagine feeling exalted and in the flow when you’re, say, changing a toilet paper roll in the office bathroom? Of course not. But it’s an illustration of the fact that you will not feel 100 percent engaged 100 percent of the time. No one does. Your level of engagement will rise and fall from moment to moment depending on:
• What you’re doing
• How you’re feeling physically and emotionally
• Your life outside work and its relationship to your work
• How well your satisfaction and motivational needs (compensation, perks, physical security, etc.) are being met
• The levels of meaning, autonomy, growth, impact, and connection (ENGAGEMENT MAGIC®) present in your organizational culture at the time
• A myriad of other factors, some not even related to the organization you belong to
Those are all fluid states, so at a given point in time the snapshot of your engagement level will also be fluid. That doesn’t matter so much. What does matter is your level of engagement over the long term. Over months and quarters, the ups and downs even out and a clear picture emerges. Patterns take shape: Your work brings you strong meaning, but you have few mechanisms to determine your impact. That’s correctable, and as long as your level of engagement is generally positive and trending upward, it’s fine if on a given day you don’t feel like an employee in a company where you are racing around on a scooter, listening to house music, and celebrating your stock options.