One of Instructure’s core values is for each employee to act like an owner. But what does this mean? To me this speaks to employee engagement.
As a company that builds software that people actually want to use, we’ve got pretty good employee engagement levels. We know what it takes to give our people the learning opportunities, growth and development tools they need to succeed, and it shows in how they view their jobs.
As our SVP of People & Places, Jeff Weber, mentioned previously, employee engagement is critical to corporate success today. But how do you distinguish between an engaged employee and a disengaged employee? Let me draw you a picture in seven easy steps:
1) Engaged employees go above and beyond.
Experts define this as “discretionary effort.” They give a little more than is expected. While satisfied employees will show up and do what they’re asked to do, you won’t often see them doing more than what’s expected of their roles. In contrast, engaged employees will proactively seek opportunities to help their teams and contribute to the mission and goals of the organization.
2) They speak about the company in terms of “we” and not “they.”
This is a quick and easy test to determine an employee’s level of engagement. It’s hard to act like an owner of a company if you don’t feel like you’re a part of it.
3) They recommend the company as a great partner to do business with and a great place to work.
When people love where they work, it’s no different than finding a new great restaurant—they’re excited to share it with others.
4) They “infect” others.
This is often referred to as a “spill-over” effect. Highly engaged employees engage customers and prospective employees. They project and infect others with their engagement. I’m sure you’ve felt the opposite before—think about a negative experience in a retail store. Disengaged employees can quickly spell the end of your relationship with a consumer brand.
5) They are proactive and act autonomously.
In his bestselling book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, psychologist Daniel Pink argues that people are motivated by three things: autonomy, mastery and purpose. He says that people need autonomy over their tasks (what they do), time (when they do it), teams (who they do it with), and techniques (how they do it). Organizations that have found inventive, sometimes radical, ways to boost autonomy are outperforming their competitors and engaging workers.
In addition, author Zeynep Ton in The Good Jobs Strategy shows that retailers like Whole Foods, Costco, UPS, and Mercadona deliver higher profitability per employee by giving their employees greater control over their jobs.
6) They understand the company’s mission.
What good is an employee who goes the extra mile but isn’t working toward the right goals? Engaged employees “get” the company’s direction and are invested in its long-term health. Kevin Cope said it best in his Fast Company article: “People will work hard for a paycheck, harder for a person, and hardest for a purpose.” Cope recommends connecting the dots between your corporate mission to your employees on an individual level.
7) They follow the company and industry outside of working hours.
Engaged employees are passionate about their careers and excited about growth opportunities. They are lifelong learners and industry junkies, and you must feed their need to grow and develop.
What do you think? What does an engaged employee look like?
Want to learn more? Check out our ebook, "Educate to Engage: Linking Learning & Employee Engagement."