I was just reading an article that claimed to be a “comprehensive list of employee engagement activities.” One of the suggestions was to have a “pajama” day. Now trust me, I’m all for working in my pajamas and I’ve got nothing against having a little bit of fun at the office, but this suggestion told me that clearly the author has confused happiness and engagement. Seeing your co-workers in their footies might bring a smile to your face, but I’m afraid it will do little for true engagement.
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If engagement isn’t happiness, what is it?
Employee engagement is the extent to which employees feel passionate about their jobs, are committed to the organization, and put discretionary effort into their work. True engagement requires an emotional connection and results in increased determination to help the organization reach its goals. Engaged employees say, “How can I help?” rather than, “That’s not my job.” Employee engagement is most likely when there is alignment between the organization’s needs and the employees' career objectives.
If pajama day won’t do the trick, which employee engagement actives might?
The right employee engagement activities to try varies by organization, industry, and role, but the most effective ones have a few things in common:
They Foster a Feeling of Ownership – Whether it’s getting front line staff to manage an improvement project or involving the team in making decisions for the department, great engagement activities give every team member the sense that they are important to the results of the company, that their work matters and that they can take pride in the team’s accomplishments.
They Bring People Together – People don’t make emotional connections with P&L statements or annual reports, they make emotional connections with other people. It’s really the people we interact with day to day that create our experience of work. Great employee engagement activities strengthen the bond between co-workers, departments and customers.
They Educate – The hunger for more knowledge is a common trait among engaged employees. They want to grow their personal market value at the same time as they learn new skills that benefit the company immediately. Look for employee engagement activities that promote learning, especially those that give employees the chance to learn from each other.
Our post called “21 Employee Engagement Activities that Work” will give you some starting ideas. Have a pajama party if you want to for fun, but be sure to also give yourself the gift of engagement this holiday season.