Focusing on the Real Purpose of Employee Engagement

I’ve been writing and speaking about the importance of employee engagement for well over a decade, years before engagement became the commonplace term it is today.

Like you, in this last decade I’ve read countless research reports, news articles, blog posts, case studies, etc., on employee engagement and am beginning to wonder if the amount of information is making the ideal of employee engagement seem ever more out of reach for organization.

And then, I read a Harvard Business Review blog post that reminded me of the simple truth about engagement. John Baldoni shared this as part of a discussion with Gallup Research Chief Scientist Jim Harter, PhD:

So where do you begin if you’re committed to improving engagement…? One way to simplify it is to focus on purpose. Communicate the purpose of the organization, and how employees’ individual purposes fit into that purpose. When employees ‘clearly know their role, have what they need to fulfill their role, and can see the connection between their role and the overall organizational purpose,’ says Harter, that’s the recipe for creating greater levels of engagement.”

It really is as simple as that – helping employees answer the questions of purpose: “Where do I fit? Is what I’m doing important to others?”

One of the most positive and effective ways of answering these questions is strategic, social recognition. Empower every employee to notice and appreciate the efforts of those around them. Encourage them to share their praise of colleagues and peers through detailed, specific messages that reflect the company values and objectives and communicate how the employee’s efforts made a difference in the bigger scheme of things.

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How would you describe your purpose at work?

You can find more from Derek Irvine on his Recognize This! blog.

Derek Irvine is one of the world’s foremost experts on employee recognition and engagement, helping business leaders set a higher vision and ambition for their company culture. As the Vice President of Client Strategy and Consulting at Globoforce, Derek helps clients — including some of world’s most admired companies such as Proctor and Gamble, Intuit, KPMG, and Thomson Reuters — leverage recognition strategies and best practices to better manage company culture, elevate employee engagement, increase retention, and improve the bottom line. He's also a renowned speaker and co-author of Winning with a Culture of Recognition. Contact him at irvine@globoforce.com.

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