Philosophically, we know that engaging employees is important, but many of us don't really know what Employee Engagement means and how to actually measure success.

The definition I often used, and by which many employee engagement surveys measure, focus around if an employee STAYS with an organization; if an employee SAYS good things; and STRIVES to go above and beyond. I've recently had issues with the STAY and STRIVE elements of this definition.

STAY talks to employee retention which is going to be harder to maintain with fewer millennials staying loyal and entry-level, customer-facing roles naturally seeing high turnover. STRIVE talks to above and beyond, but the way organizations measure this is through high potential employees who usually account for less than 10% of the organization. Imagine what's possible for an organization if they can get the majority of their employees simply doing their job.

I recently shared my definition of employee engagement during an IABC Academy workshop that seemed to resonate, so I thought I would share. These are what I call my 4Ps of Engagement.

At the end of the day, when leaders are asking for employees to be more engaged, they are really focused on bottom-line performance. Are your employees performing so that your business or organization can deliver its strategy and results. For every engagement program you build, define what good performance looks like for the business.

Do employees voluntarily participate. What do you want employees to do? Whether you want employees to deliver on the brand promise, provide a customer service standard, use benefits programs, or volunteer for a community effort, define clearly what you want them to DO. Don't be afraid to set a goal against which to measure success.

Are employees proud of your organization, products and/or services? Although more difficult to measure, this 'P' is integral to any engagement program. PRIDE is that intangible feeling that drives employees internally. Ask yourself what employees should be proud of; help them understand your organization's history; give them access to experience your products; help them celebrate your victories and milestones. Don't be afraid to create engagement programs that build pride.

Do employees promote your organization, it's products and services even when they don't have to? Do they recommend your organization as a great place to work? Do they buy your products or services? Do they say good things on social media or to their friends and family? Build engagement programs that help and encourage your employees to promote your organization. Also make sure you have a social media policy and training to give them permission to communicate responsibly.

Whether you are focused on creating employee engagement holistically in your organization or getting employees more engaged in a specific program or initiative, planning and communicating with the 4Ps will help you create employee engagement that will ultimately deliver results.

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After over 20 years leading Internal Communication in corporations, and spending the past three years as a strategic consultant, here’s my biggest ‘AHA’: There are no rules, just learning. The goal is to focus on the experience versus the expectation.
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