CoAdvantage- Employee engagement is one of those concepts that’s hugely consequential but also frustratingly hard to pin down.
Highly engaged employees are far more profitable (the top 1% add $5,000 in profit annually on average), for example). A highly engaged workforce generates 21% greater profitability overall and outperforms comparable but less engaged organizations by 202%. It’s no wonder so many businesses focus so much energy on managing employee engagement in their workforce!
But what does engagement mean in an operational and functional sense?
This is a question UK-based company Anthem Engagement, formerly known as Scancapture, has asked. In answer, they developed a hierarchy of engagement levels roughly based on philosopher Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. They suggest that workers must satisfy basic needs before they reach higher levels, and they become increasingly engaged with their work as they ascend through these levels.
1: The physiological level of Maslow’s hierarchy = survival mode in terms of engagement.
At the lowest level, employees care for little more than their next paycheck. If a better opportunity came along, they’d jump on it. They’re not excited or even particularly satisfied. Instead, they focus on doing the bare minimum. This group isn’t engaged at all and can, in some cases, even de-motivate other members of the workforce.
2: The shelter level = security mode.
This group of employees are, at best, weakly engaged. They’re more invested in their work that the previous level, but their primary focus is on squeezing their current job of whatever it can give them without necessarily investing themselves into it. So, they’ll happily work overtime but, without loving their work, won’t give it their all.
3: The belonging level = seeking mode.
These workers are somewhat engaged. They want meaningful work, and they want a workplace where they feel they belong. They feel secure and have their survival needs (like income) met, but their workplace needs to offer them opportunities for satisfaction and fulfillment. If it doesn’t, they’ll look elsewhere. Employers should pay close attention this group; these workers want to be engaged but just haven’t found what they’re looking for yet.
4: The esteem level = meaningful work mode.
Here, we’re finally and unambiguously looking at employees who are engaged. Importantly, they feel their work is meaningful and fulfilling. These workers usually feel like they’re a vital part of the business, and they devote themselves to achieving at high levels because they believe in the work they’re doing. However, this group will still leave if something better comes along.
5: The self-actualization level = highflyers.
These workers – the top 15%, per Anthem Engagement – love their work and love working in their current role. They’re accomplished and actively seek ways to boost others. Indeed, if members of group #1 above can de-motivate others, members of group #5 can do the opposite by inspiring others to do their best.
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