If someone asked you to define employee engagement in a single sentence, what would you say?
Back in 1964, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart coined the phrase “I know it when I see it.” to describe his threshold test for obscenity. I do sometimes wonder if employee engagement is like porn. We all know what employee engagement means, right? Because “I know it when I see it.”
We see the term ”employee engagement” everywhere. There are countless articles on the subject. But if somebody asked you to describe employee engagement in one sentence, what would you say?
No disrespect to Justice Stewart, but employee engagement has become too important to completely rely on the “I know it when I see it” as the one sentence definition. So, I challenged myself to find a concise explanation for employee engagement.
It’s not as easy as it looks. We talk about employee engagement in terms of outcomes like high productivity and better profits. We also like to mention it in relation to improved manager – employee communications. Those are all important but it really doesn’t articulate what employee engagement is. Then, thanks to BlessingWhite and this video titled, “The ‘X’ Model of Employee Engagement”, I think I found it.
I believe the video does a nice job of explaining engagement in a succinct manner. Employee engagement lies at intersection of maximum contribution for the business and maximum satisfaction for employees. It’s a sustainable level of high performance that benefits both the company and the employee.
Sometimes I wonder if the reason companies are having so much difficulty with employee engagement is because they are operating with a vague definition. They know it’s important but can’t articulate it. And if organizations can’t define it, how do they know that managers “know it when they see it”? The first step to solving any challenge is being able to agree on the definition.