Think back to your very first job. Was it at the local taqueria as a hostess? Was it delivering newspapers? Or were you a lifeguard at the community pool? You were probably doing the job for a couple of reasons: money and experience. In many entry-level jobs, the employer may be happy just to have a warm body, and because of this, they hope that the money or resume bullet point will be enough to make you stay for a while. Beyond entry-level jobs, other employers may have a similar mindset. They only need to train employees to get the job done, but there is so much more to work than knowing how to do your job. Having trained workers doesn’t equal high employee retention or superb customer service. Having engaged employees is actually the key.
Job Basics Aren’t Enough
In a perfect world, even the entry-level jobs would come with more than a training manual that only teaches you how to do your job. The manual would come with the understanding that you are complex being with several different needs, wants, emotions etc. And because the writer of said manual knows this, they include things like, “now that you know your job, what other skills do you have that will help you be successful in your job? What skills do you need to learn? Here’s how you find and foster a relationship with a mentor! Here are some things to remember if you want to be an engaged employee!”
Because not every job does this, we often don’t learn these things until much later, or sometimes never! I began working when I was 15 years old. Most adults considered me mature beyond my years, and in many ways, I was. But looking back, it’s painful to see how I handled and thought about certain situations.
I would always go above and beyond in my job, treat customers well, but many times grew miserable as I failed to find meaning in what I was doing, or struggled to have a relationship with my manager. I have held many positions since then: retail, food service, substitute teacher, music teacher, administrator, and professional musician. In my 12 years of working, I never came across the idea of “Employee Engagement.” I didn’t hear about this term until I was hired by a company who “measured and improved employee engagement.”
Employee Engagement Transforms Your Work
My welcome package included a book written by our CEO called ENGAGEMENT MAGIC: 5 Keys for Engaging People, Leaders, and Organizations. That book, and the philosophies within, helped me realize that I was just getting by with past jobs. Armed with these new ideas, I could have a career I was passionate about. Armed with these new ideas I could form a clear strategy and become a fully engaged employee who was happy at work.
Why do I say that? Because back then, I didn’t know the drivers of employee engagement: Meaning, Autonomy, Growth, Impact, and Connection or MAGIC for short. Back then, I didn’t have the vocabulary to explain why I was unhappy in many situations. I didn’t know that there were certain areas within my employee experience that I needed to nurture.If I had thought more about meaning, I would have found ways to do more than grin and bear my situation. If I had thought about autonomy, I could have known to ask my boss to let me shape my experience more, minimizing stress and bad feelings. If I had thought about growth, I would have learned to create formal growth plans for my present and future self. If I had thought about impact I would have learned to see and celebrate the differences I made. If I had thought more about connection, I would have made more time to get to know my coworkers and learn from them while building my network.
Let’s Create a Better Future for Our Workforce
I don’t want anyone entering the workforce to begin their journey without the concept of employee engagement. Recent research from MIT finds that, “Enterprises with top-quartile employee experience achieve twice the innovation, double the customer satisfaction, and 25 percent higher profits than organizations with a bottom-quartile employee experience.”
If we can teach young employees about the drivers of engagement the first time that they get a job and then revisit these ideas every subsequent role, our workforce will be stronger, happier, more productive, and more profitable.
So, what can we do today? We can share knowledge and information. We can share this article or gift ENGAGEMENT MAGIC to a young person in our life. If our friends and family are struggling at work, we can help them assess where they are struggling within the MAGIC model. And for your friends that are well into their careers and loving it, share with them too. A little MAGIC in our life is better late than never.