What’s the Buzz About Employee Engagement?

Turns out that if you’re happy and you know it, that helps.

In 2014’s last issue of INC., there is an extensively reported article about employee engagement that concludes with “So don’t worry about employee engagement.” It’s funny and ironic, in an article about one of the buzziest words in business, to basically say…. on second thought never mind…

But the point INC. is making is one I completely agree with: Engagement is such a big and formless concept at this point that we need to whittle it down to more manageable, more human, practices and principles.

Sure, employee engagement is an important field of research in light of the 2012 Gallup Poll that suggested that as much as 70% of the American workforce is not engaged on the job, but I think a better way to look at the challenge of employee engagement is to talk in terms of energy and happiness. Think about it: What better describes the feeling of being motivated, able to concentrate, ready to work and full of ideas than energized? And what describes a well-rounded worker experiencing pride in their work better than happiness?

The Energy Project is one group that is keyed into the Energy + Happiness = Engagement equation. I recently had the privilege to hear Tony Schwartz, president, founder and CEO, speak and he outlined an easy way to check in with ourselves and our teams to see how we are in terms of energy and happiness.

Here are 2 quick things you can do to start:

1) Pay close attention to the mood, behaviors, actions and energy of each team member and then assign them to one of the following quadrants he uses to quantify energy. Schwartz’s uses four quadrants that are defined as:

Survival Zone : characterized by impatience, anger, worry and irritability

Burnout Zone: which finds people exhausted, empty, sad and helpless

Renewal Zone: an energy-replacing zone of tranquility, peacefulness and serenity

Performance Zone: an productive state where people are upbeat, optimistic, confident, enthusiastic and invigorated

2) Look at the team as a whole; what quadrant most accurately describes the current energy state of the team? Performance Zone? Or just hanging on in Survival mode?

It sounds simple. Yet, often we are so distracted by the lightning speed that has become our normal pace that we forget to step back to see what’s really going on. Then, and only then, can we begin to plot strategies to help ourselves and others increase our happiness and energy at work.

Now that the year is coming to an end and renewal is upon us, it’s the perfect time to check in with you and your team.

Then, ask yourself:

1) What are you doing to make 2015 a more fulfilling year?

2) What are you doing to ensure that your team is happy and productive next year?

3) What are a couple of steps that you can take to move you and your team into the performance zone?

P.S. To find out more about the innovative work Schwartz and The Energy Project are doing, check out their website. I have also recommended their books to hundreds of clients. Good resources to be energized and happy. “The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal” and The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working: The Four Forgotten Needs that Energize Great Performance.

Be energized and happy ☺

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