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Building Up the 9 Pillars of Employee Engagement

Welcome back! 

In our last blog post, we focused on the topic of “Employee Engagement” and how it can greatly affect the productivity and profitability of an organization. It’s important to remember that employee engagement is so much more than a “good or bad” mood. It refers to the degree to which an employee’s feelings about their job (and boss) influence their willingness to learn and perform at work. 

An actively engaged employee is an incredible asset to a company. These people are not only highly-productive and content, but they also feel connected to their team and the larger organization. This powerful combination might seem like a “one in a million” set of traits in an employee, but here at Pathway Design Group, we think these individuals are more abundant than you think. 


How to Harness the 9 Pillars of Employee Engagement

We believe there are nine facets to the phenomenon of active engagement. We also believe that a leader who puts forth the effort to nurture and meet these nine needs will encounter not one but many employees who are actively engaged and working to the best of their abilities. 

In our last post, we touched on a brief definition of each of these pillars. Today, however, we’d like to take it a step further with examples and ideas on how to implement them within your organization. 


1. Values and Purpose (The “Why”)

We all want to feel like we belong, right? Like we are valuable, liked, and appreciated for the work that we do in our jobs? Human beings need to feel a sense of purpose to feel truly fulfilled, and employers who recognize and nurture that need will surely reap the benefits. 

Arming employees with a sense of purpose is critical to creating the emotional bond between your employees and their work and thus boosting their engagement. You can do this by evaluating and modifying your company’s culture into something that creates a bond between your employees and the overall mission. 

Assessing an internal culture might seem like a daunting task, but often, it’s as simple as taking a look around and asking some functional questions:

  • Do you and your employees socialize outside of work?
  • Are your employees more likely to accept responsibility for their mistakes or pass the blame to others?
  • Are your employees likely to recommend working at your company to a friend?
  • Do you observe any common bad behaviors, like employees leaving early?

If you answer in the negative to any of these questions, it’s time to focus on that area with a deliberate effort to find a connection with your employees. 


2. Communication

“In a highly-effective workplace, communication must be frequent and consistent.”

In a highly-effective workplace, communication must be frequent and consistent. That is, it can’t simply be a one-time occurrence. To this end, you need to set goals for the frequency of communication for each channel and each internal audience (i.e., company-wide, departmentwide, etc.) and stick to them. Your employees need to know what types of information they will receive and when, and they need to see you make good on your promises to deliver it. 

Additionally, communication should be a two-way street — an option for anyone on the team regardless of position. It should also be consistent with the brand culture, multi-channel, and fully inclusive. 


3. Employee Health and Wellness

Health affects work, and work affects health. There’s no way around it — there is, however, a way to encourage positive outcomes of both. By implementing a voluntary health and wellness program within your organization that is physical, fun, and positively competitive, your chances for happy, healthy employees will substantially increase. A health and wellness program should be long term as good health habits are a lifelong skillset, and no one wants to be abandoned on their journey toward self-improvement. 

It’s also important to provide access to good nutrition at work and to include mental health services in your wellness program. Mental health can greatly impact productivity and satisfaction and should not be ignored. 


4. Workspace and Environment

It’s important to put thought into your organization’s physical environment. You want your employees to enjoy their workspace rather than dread having to spend time there. Keeping the area clean and comfortable can go a long way toward a positive atmosphere. While natural sunlight is preferable, we understand that not every business has a choice over window placement. In these cases, making sure the space is well-lit can improve morale greatly. 

Comfortable furniture, working equipment, and even a well-stocked breakroom can turn a workplace into a pleasant place to get good work done. 


5. Well-defined Roles

Defining job roles is all about connecting the organizational mission with each employee’s day-to-day activities. Ultimately, the role should be a clear framework for how the employee’s efforts contribute to the company’s overall mission. 

Without this framework, employers and employees risk confusion, disengagement, and burnout. Can you imagine working for someone who has no idea how you benefit the company? It’s not a very motivating situation. 

An effective leader should know how each department supports the overall company mission, how each team supports their department, and finally how every individual contributes to the success of their team. 


6. Relationships with Colleagues

A common theme of these nine pillars is the human need to feel valued. This need extends into workplace friendships as well as boss/employee relationships. Another Gallup study found that close work friendships boost employee satisfaction by 50%, while people with a self-described “best friend” at work are seven times more likely to be fully engaged. 

Now, this doesn’t mean that you need to be a “best friend” matchmaker at work, but it does mean that socialization should be encouraged rather than frowned upon so that employees have the freedom to find like-minded individuals within the workplace. 


7. Recognition and Incentives

Implementing a thoughtful recognition and incentive program can significantly boost morale and satisfy the need to feel a sense of belonging at work. Surveys, deliberate discussion, and even casual conversation can help you determine what sorts of incentives are valued by your team members. 

Recognition should be a daily occurrence and a routine (but not forced) part of daily interactions between peers as well as between staff and leaders.


8. Buy-in from Managers

Managers are the direct link between the administration and the rest of your organization. This means that as you hire managers it’s important to seek out certain traits. An effective manager should be self-aware, decisive, assertive, and have a vision that is in line with the company. 

It’s important, as well, for them to display high levels of emotional intelligence. By displaying empathy and that they have their team’s best interests at heart, a good manager can elicit a great amount of enthusiasm among employees. 


9. Personal Growth

Giving your employees an opportunity for personal growth can provide a much-needed breath of fresh air to your organization. If your workforce feels like it’s stagnating or treading water in a dead-end job, they will check-out and look for outside opportunities.

Investing in the talent of your workforce through things like continuing education classes, workshops, conferences, and resources designed to help them hone their crafts will pay off big in the long run. Providing your team with opportunities to better themselves personally as well as professionally will show that you care about the people working for you and that they have an exciting future ahead of them at your company.