Here’s the brutal truth: in today’s competitive business world, an engaged workforce is no longer enough.
But it’s hard to think beyond engagement when it’s what we’ve always focused on.
Half a century ago, organizations thought it was important to measure employee satisfaction. Then retention became the rage. Then we shifted our gaze to engagement.
And look where we are now.
For years, I have met countless senior leaders all at a similar crossroads: staring at their hundred-page engagement reports and asking themselves “What now?”
They tell us, “The first year was easy—we just addressed the ‘low-hanging fruit’ issues and our employees were thrilled.”
But, each additional year, responding with visible, concrete action has become more difficult for these companies. At some point, employee engagement scores hit a plateau—and leaders begin to see growing cynicism in the workplace.
We’re still evolving
Employees don’t care about engagement scores—they care about their lived experience. They want what makes work enjoyable: connection, laughing, creativity, moments of fun and joy…all the products of energy.
In other words, employees want an environment in which they can flourish and thrive, be passionate, innovative, and have purpose.
So, as organizational culture evolves, so too must its leaders.
Doing so requires a bit of a mind shift from the “old ways” of doing things. But it’s not as hard as it sounds.
What leaders need to do now is move away from managing engagement—and move toward managing energy.
So…where do you start?
Energy already exists in your organization
Your work environment probably has a few superstar employees who appear to have limitless energy. Wouldn’t it be great if you could clone them?
And here’s why: an engaged but un-energized team still has energy within them!
You may see occasional glimpses of it. For example, you may be sitting in a meeting, and someone makes a comment that seems to hold the germ of a viable idea. As the team begins to nudge and coax it—leap-frogging off each other’s ideas—an innovation emerges within 30 minutes.
An innovation that could be the promise of a breakthrough for your organization.
In the space of a half-hour, you’ve seen your employees go from being engaged to being energized—and if the innovation is big enough, that energy can surge for days.
Harnessing sustainable energy from the unenergized
But the reality is you don’t need 30 minutes to elicit the occasional burst of energy from your employees.
Take another look around. Do certain managers have more than their fair share of those desirable energized superstars?
If so, you should ask yourself what they’re doing differently. Or, more specifically: “Has this leader figured out how to build the conditions where most employees can be highly energized?”
Going beyond engagement necessitates the ongoing nurturing of other peoples’ energy through simple things like:
So, while figuring out how to harness and maintain energy may sound daunting, the reality is actually much more accessible.
Build a legacy
By shifting from managing engagement to a culture that nurtures energy, you can make a monumental difference in the lives of your employees.
Imagine employees who reflect back on the years they worked with you and say, “Those were the best years of my life. I became a better person by working there.”
That might just be the biggest reason to look for something beyond engagement.
Co-Founder of Juice Inc, Thought Leader & Author
Co-Founder of Juice Inc.
Vice President, Business Development
Business Development, Juice USA
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