How to Improve Employee Engagement, Even If You’re Not the Boss

How to Improve Employee Engagement, Even If You’re Not the Boss

It’s two weeks after the WorkHuman conference, and my mind is still buzzing with thoughts from the great speakers. One of the most prevalent themes for me was the concept of individuals themselves being responsible for their own employee engagement. This wasn’t explicitly called out by any of the speakers, so it may be my bias, as I work with leaders to develop great culture, and see how some employees are engaged no matter what, while others seem to be the opposite. In any case, a lot of what Shawn Achor, Michelle Gielan, and Eric Mosley shared linked to the notion of people engaging themselves and others.

In the words of Madonna, “Express Yourself!”

Madonna didn’t speak at WorkHuman, but Michelle Gielan said something that made Madonna’s words relevant to employee engagement.

“The most expressive person has the most powerful impact on culture.”

Michelle’s shared research that showed 31% of people in any organization are positive, but don’t speak up.

So, if you’ve got positive thoughts, Express Yourself! Spread the positivity. As Michelle says, we are all Broadcasters. What you say and how you express yourself impacts others. Broadcast positivity to increase employee engagement.

Engage the Energy-Suckers

We all know those coworkers who find everything that is wrong, focus on it, and share the negativity with everyone. It’s easy to get swept into their energy-sucking circles and feel the same way. But research shared by Shawn Achor and Michelle Gielan shows that, while negative news and discussions do increase negative moods, if we can listen to the problem, then talk about possible solutions, we can actually have a positive impact on people’s moods.

So allow the energy-suckers to vent a little, then engage them in a discussion about solutions, and you might just change their perspective and level of engagement!

Recognize Awesomeness!

Eric Mosley, CEO of Globoforce, shared research that shows that 70% of people go unrecognized over 6 months. So don’t wait for your boss or formal leader to “recognize” you or your colleagues! When you see a colleague do something great, tell them. When they help you out (deliberately or indirectly), point it out and share how it impacted you positively. Give genuine thanks to people you work with. This is why technology like Globoforce’s, which gives the ability to peers to recognize each other, are great options.

So, when you see a colleague do something great, tell them. Give genuine thanks to people you work with. Hearing from a peer how meaningful your actions are for them has a great impact on positivity and employee engagement.

Redefine Your Happiness Goal

We often think “if I make so much more money, I’ll be happy”, or “If I win that award, I will be happy”, or “if I get promoted, I’ll be happy”.  We think a raise, a bonus, public recognition, will give us the happiness we want. In reality, these things don’t make us happier. Our brain is continuously redefining success, so we never reach what we think we’re striving for.

As Shawn Achor said:

“Happiness is the joy you feel moving towards your potential”

Joy fuels happiness. So as you work towards an achievement, realize the joy and happiness you’re feeling in the moment. Don’t wait to achieve a goal to realize the joy you could have felt all along. When you pause and consider what you’re grateful for, and when you are present and mindful as you go through your work day, your personal level of engagement will rise.

Make Friends at Work

There is a question asked by Gallup in their “Q12” Employee Engagement survey: Do you have a best friend at work? Before you say “Why does that matter!? It’s work!”, let’s remember that we humans are social creatures. We crave connection with others. In fact, Shawn Achor shared that the greatest predictor of longterm happiness is the breadth and depth of our social relationships.

If you are feeling disengaged at work, engage yourself by making friends at work – and make sure you’re not being an energy sucker when you do!

Redefine Your Own Potential

Write your own story. Engage Yourself and others.I loved what Shawn Achor said about the true key to happiness, potential and leadership:

“Make others better.”

It is so simple, and I have to say, in my experience, when I’m able to help other’s realize their own potential, or to make them happier, or to help them see things in a different light, it truly affects my personal level of happiness. Imagine if, instead of being focused on what is in it for ourselves, we focus on our potential to make others better.

I imagine a work-world where each of us is striving to make others better and increasing our own engagement as well as that of others, along the way.

Ultimately, my biggest take-away from WorkHuman is that each of us really controls our own level of engagement, our own story. We choose how to write our story every day, in every interaction. So don’t wait for your boss to do an “employee engagement” event to engage you. Get busy and engage yourself and others.



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