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Make Engagement Personal


Organizations are facing unprecedented challenges in finding talent. Once people are hired, the next hurdle is ensuring that they stay, are interested in their work, and contribute to organizational goals. In other words, organizations need to keep employees engaged.  This “E” word is the cure-all for ensuring organizations keep the talent that moves them forward. Engagement is an important and well-researched topic. According to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace 2023 report, low engagement costs the global economy approximately $8.8 trillion annually, or 9% of the global GDP (p. 4).

To move the needle on engagement, we need to examine and reflect on its underlying features through the lens of personalization. Put simply, how can we do our best to create the conditions for each employee? This may sound daunting, but with the right approach, it doesn’t have to be. At its core, it is a humanistic approach. Engagement levels can soar in organizations that embrace this perspective.

Leaders and managers are at the front lines of this approach. They have to know the people on their teams and their direct reports. They can do this by maintaining curiosity in conversations with each person so that they can confidently answer:

  1. Autonomy
    1. Have I demonstrated trust in this person?
    2. Have I given them space to do the work they were hired to do?
  2. Mastery
    1. Am I finding ways to help this person grow in their role?
    2. Do I actively support their development, even when development budgets are slashed?
  3. Purpose
    1. Have I asked this person to describe how they find meaning and purpose in their work?
    2. Have I helped this person see how their work contributes directly to the larger organization?
  4. Belonging
    1. Do I actively demonstrate that I value this person?
    2. Do I create the conditions for community within this work team?
  5. Hyper-personalization of approach
    1. Do I learn how this person goes about their work?
    2. Do I know what energizes them in their role, as well as what drains them?
    3. Do we have good conversations about this so they feel safe to come to me?
  6. Balance
    1. Do I demonstrate through my actions that I am a whole person, not just my work?
    2. Do I know about this person’s hobbies and life outside of work and help find ways to balance work and life when appropriate?
  7. Guidance
    1. Do I talk with this person weekly about their work, even if it is a brief check-in?
    2. Do I mentor this person to help them develop in their role and their competency as a team member?

Much of engagement is a grass-roots effort that can grow exponentially. Each of us can contribute to its growth. Start asking some of these questions and see where it leads!