Why Does Employee Engagement Matter? Because Work Is Personal.

May 12, 2014
Brian de Haaff, CEO of AHA!, really hit the nail on the head in his recent blog, It Is Personal. He writes, “Work is the act of the body and mind moving towards a goal. . . It’s fundamentally a human endeavor which makes it utterly personal.” De Haaff makes the case that the idea that “it’s just business and not personal” is a serious disconnect with the realities of the workplace and that instead “the reality is that every organization is in the business of people and every job is personal for every employee for a few key reasons” which include: We work for higher purpose, To create is human, We build relationships. In other words, people are are far more than cogs in the machine. They come with intentions, aspirations, and desire to connect to meaning and to other people. In the field of employee engagement, we know that the very thing we are trying to achieve is to connect work to the personal. Employees who are connected to the work that they do strive to accomplish personal and professional goals, which ultimately has a positive effect on the bottom line. Recognition and engagement programs  not only celebrate personal accomplishments, but also provide context for the work that we do every day. We have previously written, in our blog post Recognition and Purposeful Work , “As we go about creating workplaces where our efforts matter, a fundamental desire to be acknowledged and recognized for our individual accomplishment emerges as a critical point of connection. It gives purpose and meaning to our efforts, aligning what we do with why we do it.” When a brand’s values are clearly defined and an employee can really get behind them – live them, even - personal goals and business goals work in tandem. Dale Carnegie puts it in perspective in their paper, What Drives Employee Engagement and Why It Matters, “By showing [employees] that they are valued and have responsibility, and then to recognize and reward them for a job well done, a manager can create an ‘involved employee.’ It is then much easier to turn that sense of involvement into enthusiasm and a sense of pride in ownership that creates the highest levels of engagement with employees.” De Haaff writes, “Thinking and producing are what humans do and it’s impossible to completely separate that from the connections we make and the emotions we feel.” When we can be proud of  what we do and believe it it, the outcomes matter even more. Work is most certainly personal. And we can do a lot to make sure that the emotions and intentions it generates are positive ones. De Haaff states, "In every company and for everyone who earns a paycheck -- our aspirations, efforts, and interactions mean something to us and to others."  A well-designed engagement program can help channel the individual's emotions and drive for purpose and meaning into productive, goal-achieving efforts on behalf of the organization, to everyone’s benefit.

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