“Employee engagement” is a term folks who work in human development use like flypaper to catch a client’s attention. And it works because every employer wants to know how adhesive their workplace is — that is, if their employees want to stick around.

Looking beyond numbers

Engagement scores are metrics that measure employee satisfaction and dissatisfaction. As with any metric, we equate good results with high scores. However, the metrics do not reveal the most basic of human emotions: connectedness.

Feeling connected comes down to whether or not employees like coming into work every day. If the answer is affirmative, you have the foundation for building a strong and healthy organization.

True engagement

The sense of connectedness emerges through three factors: vision, mission and values. When people feel a part of something greater (vision) than themselves (the vision) and feel they are contributing to it (the mission) — and the values of that organization matches their own — they feel truly engaged. They feel like they belong.

One way to promote such connectedness is to find ways to foster a culture of service where people not only work to achieve the mission, but also work to serve one another.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Listen, don’t judge. Keep an open mind toward receiving help as well as offering it.

  • Replace “have to” with “want to” when it comes to doing the work. Think about ways to draw people into activities rather than push them into it.

  • Promote benefits over activity. Ask, how does what I do help others?

  • Adopt a “me-last” attitude. Be humble. People want to work with those who know their limitations as well as those who realize it’s important to work with, rather than against, others.

  • Share credit and take blame. Step out of the limelight so that others receive praise. Conversely, accept responsibility when things don’t go well. Look for solutions rather than blame.

Connectedness is engagement for one employee at a time.