Employee engagement has become a topic of much focus in the corporate world. Many organizational and human resource experts have invested multiple hours and dollars to create a culture of engagement in the work place. This might seem outside the realm of the small business owner (for this article we are defining a “small business” as those companies with more than 1, but less than 50 employees). In addition to understanding what employee engagement is, it is important for small business owners to understand why it is necessary for them to take steps to develop it within their business culture.
What is meant by employee engagement? I might be easier to describe what it is not. Employee engagement does not mean employee happiness or satisfaction. An employee might be happy and satisfied while at work, but that does not mean that they are engaged. Being happy or satisfied does not mean that they are working hard or productively and operating on behalf of what they know is best for the company. When an employee is truly engaged, they are emotionally committed to the company for which they work and are compelled to offer more of their capability and potential. And what is the return on investment for a small business owner to put the time and finances into developing a culture of engagement? Engaged employees provide higher quality service, which leads to, improved customer satisfaction which results in, increased sales and profits.
So how does one create a culture of engagement? Here are 5 simple entry points to get you started:
The new year offers a fresh start and an opportunity to create new dreams and aspirations for ourselves. For many, this comes in the form of “New Year’s Resolutions”. Resolutions are typically framed around areas of our life that we feel need to change. When thinking through a resolution, the language of “should’ or “must” typically comes into play; “I should try to get the gym more often…”, “I must get some control over my spending habits….” This type of language calls forth our inner disciplinarian and most of the time, fails to be inspiring or motivational. Therefore, in 2018, I would like to encourage you to forego resolutions and instead focus on a more uplifting possibility to manifest change in your life:
Positive Affirmations:The word affirmation comes from the Latin affirmare, meaning to “make steady or strengthen”. An affirmation by definition, suggests that something exists or is true. Creating affirming and positive thoughts in our life is key to manifesting the experiences and feeling states that we want. According to Dr. Carmen Harra, “Affirmations do indeed strengthen us by helping us believe in the potential of an action we desire to manifest. When we verbally affirm our dreams and ambitions, we are instantly empowered with a deep sense of reassurance that our wishful words will become reality.” To include this powerful tool into your life, identify 3-5 positive affirmations that resonate with you and incorporate them into your daily life (check out Dr. Harra’s article for 35 amazing affirmatios that you can use: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-carmen-harra/affirmations_b_3527028.html). This could include taking time each morning to say them out loud, write them on sticky notes that you place around your living and work space so that you will see them often, record them as a voice memo on your phone so that you can listen to them. What ever works for you. The key is to be sure that you fully embrace the power of the idea and words in your affirmations.
Reflection on all that Went Well in 2017:This practice embraces positive psychology ideology which encourages the belief that people want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives to cultivate what is best within themselves. Utilizing simple prompts such as “What am I most proud of from 2017?” or “What from 2017 do I want to encourage more of in 2018?”, or “The top 7 things that made my heart sing in 2017” can create powerful feelings of happiness and accomplishment. It is from this feeling state that we can make plans to continue embracing and developing positive experiences for the year to come.
Vision Board:A Vision Board is a fun and simple way to create a physical visualization of what you want to bring into your life. Visualizing the positive feelings and experiences that what we want helps create a positive energy that supports and guides their actual manifestation. If this sounds to “woo woo”, note that athletes have been trained in the use of visualization techniques for decades in order to improve performance. As explained by the “Make a Vision Board” website, vision boards can help you to:
Perfect Day Visualization:Take some time to think about what a “perfect day” in 2018 would look like. This should be something that is actually attainable, but a couple steps outside of what you typically allow yourself to enjoy. Maybe it involves using a flex day to sleep in late and spend the day lounging in your yoga pants binging on your favorite snack food and NetFlix show. Or maybe it is using a weekend or holiday to get out into nature and take a long hike with a friend or your dog. It could be identifying a time when you will finally enroll in a cooking class that you have always thought about. Think of all the details and feeling states that your “perfect day” would include. Document all this information in some form and then, set a deadline for when you will make that “perfect day” happen. Depending on what you plan, you could create 3-4 Perfect Days for the year. Getting in touch with the positive feeling states that you will experience on these special days will be a “pick me up” on the days are not so “perfect”.Word of the Year:This activity will help if you feel the need for focus and clarity. Frequently, if you make a list or complete a very open-ended journaling activity about what you do want in your life, you will see themes and patterns emerging. Once the theme or overarching pattern can be identified, “boil it down” to the one powerful word that encapsulates it to serve as your foundation for the year. Write the word down and have it in places where you can connect with it throughout the day as needed for decision making and grounding.
Possible word choices that may emerge are:
Nikki Stansfield is trained as a professional coach and loves to support anyone who wants to intentionally create something meaningful within their professional lives.