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Former Member

Employee engagement is a funny term. It’s a proven factor in success, but not necessarily a quantifiable one. It’s all about emotion — an emotional connection to an organization, its mission and goals, its people (Go team!). It’s a motivation to go the distance and to excel on an organization’s behalf. Completely unlike that put-a-ring-on-it kind of engagement, it doesn’t lead to marriage. In the world of work, it is the marriage.

Like a marriage, employee engagement may temporarily coast on just-hired momentum. But it’s hard to sustain that kind of heady enthusiasm. Engagement needs to be more deeply rooted in the very fabric of today’s workplace to last — and note I said today. We’re over the gold watch generation and into a Me generation, who put their own personal brand first, by necessity. To have a career strong enough to weather this business climate takes a thick skin and a strong core. So how do organizations capture an employee’s heart and mind for the long haul?

The top 50 companies in Glassdoor 2015 Employees Choice rankings structure the employee / employer compact as a working partnership: perpetual, constructive, mutually beneficial, respectful, and with constant, comprehensive opportunities for education and growth. These firms make sure their employees feel the love, and not just with fancy perks. They’ve built a triad of employee engagement with three key components.

Competitive compensation, incentives and benefits

Want to attract the cream of the crop? That kind of talent doesn’t come at a discount. Nothing demonstrates how much a company values of its employees like putting its money where its message is. That means generous compensation and benefits packages.

All the top ranked firms on the Employee’s Choice list are known for competitive salaries, just for a start. Tech firm F5 Networks offers it all, including fully paid health insurance for the whole family, stock grants and ESPP, 401k and donation matching, and lots of vacation time. It’s about way more than a good paycheck.

Transparent culture and a mission that matters

Engagement thrives in an employee-inclusive , authentic, transparent company culture, and deepens when attached to a meaningful mission. Remember Google’s eight pillars of innovation? (Yes, the firm tops Glassdoor’s list this year). One of them is: Share everything. Another: Have a mission that matters. Hard to argue with those: If you’re privy to everything happening in your organization, sharing the highs and lows, that’s true emotional connection. If you’re essentially in the business of spreading knowledge to benefit humankind, it’s hard to be disengaged. 

Help up the learning curve and the ladder

A built-in program of support, succession, training and advancement is critical to sustaining engagement. And an added benefit: at every step it offers more ways to align mission with quality performance. Global management consulting firm Bain & Company, ranked #2 on Glassdoor’s list, has a company culture focused on teamwork and learning. It makes no bones about a steep learning curve and expects its employees to be innovative and creative, facing challenges head on. And to help, offers countless training and mentoring options, and plenty of opportunities to take on team leadership roles. Teams are forged, friendships deepen, camaraderie takes hold. Sound like a long lasting marriage?

At its essence, true employee engagement means instilling authentic hope in your workforce: a sense of possibility on all levels and into the future — not just for their own growth and advancement, but for the company’s. So if you want employees to feel invested in your company, make sure your company is invested in your employees. That’s the win-win.

What do you think about employee engagement? What matters most at work to you? If you want to learn more on this topic, download the complete Oxford Economics and SAP Workforce 2020 Study today.

photo credit: Highways Agency IM Creator cc