Helping Employees Engage Themselves

How to encourage employees to engage themselves in what they do!

There is a problem with employee engagement. And I am not talking about the reports decrying the low levels of employee engagement in business globally.  The problem is deeper and more profound. It is that the whole premise of employee engagement is based on a flawed assumption.

The Flawed Assumption

Virtually all the reports, publications and articles are based on the flawed assumption that it is the business’ responsibility to engage its employee.  This is wrong.  Engagement, like motivation, comes from within.  Just at businesses cannot motivate people so they cannot engage people. All they can do is create the environment within which it might happen.  The employer/employee relationship is a two-way relationship, not one way.  Employees have to take responsibility and engage themselves in what they do.

Changing Our Questions

Almost all work in studies on employee engagement has involved asking passive questions. The problem with this is that it leads to a focus on external causes of problems. For example:

  • Are you happy?
  • Is your work meaningful?
  • Are you engaged in your work?
  • Do you have positive relationships at work?
  • Do you have clear goals?
  • How are you progressing towards achieving your goal?

Asking these questions leads our employees to look outside themselves to find the causes of problems.  In doing so they abdicate taking responsibility for themselves. So what do we do?

Ask active questions.

Asking active questions helps people focus on internal opportunities for improvement. They take responsibilities for themselves.  Does it work? YES!

The following six questions were sent to employees very day for ten days.  All they had to do was score themselves on a score of 1 to 10. One being low, ten being high.

The questions were as follows:

The Results

  • 1433 participants – 19 different studies
  • 30% reported positive change on all six items
  • 60% reported positive change on at least four items.
  • 86% reported positive change on at least one item.
  • Almost no-one reported any negative change.

Next Steps

If you want your employees to engage themselves quickly and with impact then try this for yourself. If you use employee engagement surveys already, then look at including some of these active questions and then ask further questions to ask them how they did it.  This will give you ideas and insights as to how you can create an environment which encourages and allows your employees to engage themselves in their work. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain!

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