I was reading the 2013 SHRM/Globoforce 2013 Employee Engagement Survey this morning. The report says that the key issue continuing to face organizations is this notion of employee engagement. Let me rephrase. The most significant HR challenge is employee engagement (I find this to be an interesting way to state employee engagement….that it’s an HR challenge). The report is full of really great ideas on how to address the challenge of employee engagement from the eyes of HR and the analysts. And as we could have suspected, a better way to recognize and reward employees was one of the solutions. Good for us! However, when I put myself in the shoes of our customers, I’m left scratching my head. I need more.

YouEarnedIt is located in Austin, a community known for startups, new ideas, the latest technology, and companies in the middle of this so-called war on talent. I look around and see some remarkable organizations getting this employee engagement thing right and I wonder, “what can we learn from them?” So, I’ve compiled a list of simple considerations; things that can have a big impact on engagement but easy to do. As you read, I would love to know what you are doing that directly impacts culture or engagement. Whether you are HR, the CEO, or a new-hire, we’d love to know.

1. Encourage Bigger Perspective. I love the word perspective because it can apply to so many things but certainly to what we are doing inside of our organizations. The work we do is big but life is bigger. Helping people understand this and empowering them to get involved with something larger than themselves can do wonders for this thing we call engagement. Actually, I argue that it’s impacting our personal well-being, and if this is strong, employees are more engaged. In my previous organization, it was a non-negotiable to take a mission trip each year to use our skills and teamwork to impact those who needed help. That trip was like an engagement gas tank for each of our employees, and we came out of the trip revived, refreshed, and deeply engrained and connected to the organization and each other. It tethered us together based on something authentic and meaningful. As for data, this article talks about the impact of corporate citizenship on employee engagement. Enjoy.

2. Involve. But don’t burden. People want to know what’s going on, why it’s happening, and how something (good or bad) will impact them. Get in the habit of communicating as early and often as you can so people don’t spend their valuable time wondering rather than being awesome for your organization. Be thoughtful in how you communicate and, even better, how you ask for feedback so decisions are more informed. Do you have all-hands each week, team lunches to get to know each other and talk openly, feedback loops or mechanisms to solicit responses and ideas for the organization? It wouldn’t hurt to take an inventory of how much you and all managers/people leaders are doing these things. Without this, engagement can suffer.

3. Release the reigns. For some, it’s not natural to trust, let go, relax when it comes to how our teams work. Flexible work arrangements are talked about so formally at all of the HR conferences, but what people really need to know are the non-negotiables so that they can support them accordingly. Throwing all policies regarding work expectations out the window is not the answer for everyone, but consider how you are communicating expectations to your team and whether or not you are truly modeling a flexible work culture. Have you set the guidelines or framework and communicated this so employees feel empowered to call the day-by-day plays? If you feel a flexible culture and work environment would work for your team, setting expectations and communicating the non-negotiables can help considerably (and decreases the chance of employee frustration if people feel they were told they are able to do one thing but are expected to behave another way). Additionally, defining standards of behavior help as well. What are examples of behavior, good and bad, that people can anchor themselves to when considering whether they are pushing the envelope a bit too much? For example, working from home every day may not be a positive standard, but working from home on a day full of head-down coding or writing makes sense. Help articulate these examples for your people.

We want to hear about the practices in your culture that engage (or disengage) you most. Please comment here or tweet us at @youearnedit and tell us all about it.