Engagement is About Shared Values
We talk a lot about engagement in the workplace. Not just us at Hölmetrics, but we also talk about it a lot as a culture. In the past several decades, some brilliant people decided that engagement was an instrumental measurement of our performance at work, and ever since then, we’ve become a little nuts for engagement at work.
I agree, and I don’t think it’s a bad thing. It’s just interesting to me. I think it’s fair to say at this point that I’ve dedicated my life to better understanding the power behind employee experience, and while we’ve only scratched the surface, what I’ve learned so far is fascinating.
One of the things I’ve learned about engagement is that it is born out of an alignment in values. When my surroundings reflect the same values that I hold, I engage. That makes sense. That’s why my favourite setting is in a pub with live music around one in the morning. In that place and at that time, there is a high likelihood of experiencing great conversation with good friends, good food and drinks, and music that tells a remarkable story. At that moment, I’m fully engaged.
Now, I’m not saying that your workplace should resemble a pub near midnight, but if you work from a WeWork, then maybe it does.
To a certain degree, especially if you are on Linkedin a lot, you’re more likely than not to work somewhere that reflects your values. There’s something about what you do, where you do it, how you do it, or who you do it for that connects with you at a personal level. If it doesn’t, you’re probably more likely than not to be surfing Linkedin for a distraction or surfing travel blogs or even job boards. And, of course, that’s true.
Now, what happens when our values change?
What happens when, hypothetically speaking, there’s a major crisis, like a terrorist attack, or say, a pandemic, that changes our priorities overnight and realigns our personal values? What then? How does that affect our engagement?
For companies who shifted their values, the outcomes of the COVID-19 pandemic on their employee engagement were very positive. Working from home has allowed for better work-life integration; no more 90-minute commute into downtown. Savings were found in lower fuel consumption, free parking in your driveway, and no need to wear pants or do laundry weekly. And in return, your workforce is engaged and productive during a time of social and economic uncertainty.
For companies who didn’t shift their values to address this crisis, the results can be catastrophic. Companies that haven’t addressed the pandemic’s safety concerns adequately or respond to outbreaks. Companies that have not equipped people to work remotely or allowed flexibility in work schedules for school-aged children also working from home stripped their companies of value.
One day this pandemic will be over, and there will be companies who have dramatically distanced themselves from their competition simply because they cared and shifted their values in the face of crisis. Crisis provides leaders with an opportunity to exponentially increase their value. It has everything to do with how they respond.