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What does employee engagement, its dynamics and triggers, look like from the viewpoint of 6,000 organizational psychologists? And, more importantly, what can managers learn from it?

First off, let’s agree on what engagement means. A recent white paper by the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) described three key components of work engagement:

  • Dedication: employees are enthusiastic and proud of their work.
  • Vigor: employees are invested in their work, and persist during challenges.
  • Absorption: employees are very engrossed in their work.

As you’re well aware, managers play a big role in employee engagement, which in turn can accelerate or stunt business growth.

The white paper authors call out a handful of antecedents (think of them as key ingredients) of work engagement, and their outcomes:

Antecedents Outcomes
  • Task variety
  • Employee support
  • Task significance
  • Transformational leadership
  • Recovery experiences and activities
  • Work-role fit
  • Improved task performance
  • Proactive, helping behaviors
  • Employee satisfaction and positive outlook
  • Reduced withdrawal and turnover
  • Service-minded culture in team/unit
  • Better customer experiences and loyalty

What does that mean in everyday, actionable terms?

Below is a list of ways managers can improve employment engagement in their workplace:

  • Provide more feedback.
  • Help employees see the significance of the tasks they are performing. Why do their work matter?
  • Give them more autonomy.
  • Create systems for social support and mentoring.
  • Encourage short breaks to recover engagement levels.
  • Hire individuals that fit within the work environment and job role.
  • Develop programs or mechanisms for employees to voice their opinion in a safe environment.
  • Examine how employees can take on tasks that are viewed as positive challenges.
  • Increase the variety of tasks.
  • Reduce administrative hassles and role overload.
  • Improve reward and recognition initiatives.

Are any of these surprising or novel ideas? No, they’re not.

But are they practiced in most organizations? Sadly, that answer is also “no.”

What do you already know to be true, but have a hard time implementing in your organization?

Comment below or drop us a note. We’ll be glad to share what we’ve learned from working with organizations like yours.

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