The 3 Big Whys to Employee Engagement

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The 3 Big Whys to Employee Engagement

By Rahul Balakrishnan

As someone who has worked extensively in both the corporate sector and the social impact sector, I have found a common aspect that all organisations aspire for is  – Employee Retention. However, in their efforts to ensure retention, organisations often miss out on working towards Employee Engagement.

According to Wikipedia, an “engaged employee” is defined as one who is fully absorbed by and enthusiastic about their work and therefore takes positive action to further the organization’s reputation and interests. An engaged employee has a positive attitude towards the organization and its values.

Employee engagement occurs when an employee knows and feels connected to a larger purpose. They are driven when they are a part of a community that is trying to problem solve, and part of a team that exists for a larger good.  
Simply put: it is the ‘purpose’ or the ‘why’ that motivates and engages employees in a meaningful way.
If you’re able to help your employees understand and articulate answers to the 3 ‘Big Whys,’ you’re on your way to towards keeping your workforce engaged. 

The Big Why of Existence

An organisation should be able to fill in the blank to the statement, “We exist because…..”The motivational power of clearly articulated organizational purpose cannot be understated as it is this that will connect to the heart and the head.
For a school, the purpose could be providing an excellent education. For a Government consulting firm, it could be providing strong processes and solutions to improve decision making.

Regardless of the domain, in order to reap the rewards of the head and heart connection, the organization’s “ Big Why of Existence” must be genuine, transparent, and relevant for everyone, from the most senior leader to the frontline employee.
Usually, the founding team and their investment or engagement towards the why of existence is high and strong. But as the enterprise grows it becomes pertinent to articulate the answer to this question to everyone irrespective of their position, vertical or operational expertise. 

The Big Why of Involvement

Purpose is not a one-time engagement. Sharing your organization’s purpose with new employees during induction is a great start, but that’s only the beginning. It’s important to continue reminding them how their personal purpose connects to the organizational purpose.
Every day that employees come to work, the organizational culture should reinforce their personal sense of purpose with intentional leadership, effective communication and meaningful connections between daily work and strategic goals. If you want to engage people, start by clearly communicating the message that you appreciate them and the work they do. 

  • Celebrate their achievements. 
  • Build their learning from failures. 
  • Reconnect with them repeatedly towards their personal vision. 
  • Start and end every interaction, be it a group meeting or an individual check-in, by reiterating the connection. 

Remember an engaged employee is an employee with strong ownership. And it cannot be built one way. It has to be a two-way street.

The Big Why of the Difference I make 

If you want to engage and motivate employees, you must explain to them why their role makes a difference. If the purpose of your organization is impacting children, everyone from the administration staff and the school coordinator to the school principal should understand why their role plays a critical part in achieving the organization’s purpose.
Employees connect to the organization’s purpose when leaders, managers, and colleagues help them understand that their daily contributions to the organization matter. How each and every mundane task, every step even if seemingly monotonous has contributed to achieve the organisation’s purpose and create impact both for the beneficiary end and the P&L.

By making a powerful connection, you’re able to engage and inspire employees to reach new levels.
When you create an environment in which the organization has a definitive and clearly stated purpose, in which employees understand their purpose, and it’s clear why every role matters, you’re poised to enjoy the rewards that come with a motivated and engaged workforce.

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