Engagement is like Ice Cream (6 things we mean when we say engagement)

by | Feb 17, 2021

What is your favourite kind of ice cream? Are you a sweet and salty person, or a tart and tangy person? Sorbet? Gelato? Vanilla? There’s nothing like a good vanilla ice cream. If you don’t think vanilla ice cream can be held in high regard, you have not had good vanilla ice cream.

 Once I went with some friends to teach English in Peru, I had vanilla ice cream that I will never forget. Of course, when it was served to us, the direct English translation was Iced Cheese, and we all looked down at the elegant serving of frozen dessert with curiosity and hesitation. But after eating the main course of Guinea Pig, who were we to turn out noses at what turned out to be the best scope of ice cream I’ve ever had.

One time in Mexico, we went to an ice cream parlour right on the Pacific Coast. I asked the guy behind the counter for the most authentically Mexican ice cream they had. What I ended up with was what I would graciously describe as frozen salsa. That was the worst scoop of ice cream I’ve ever had. 

There is almost no reason for me to tell you any of that, except that as our social media manager and I were planning our content for this week, and we wanted to talk about engagement, and I said, “Engagement is like asking for ice cream. That’s too vague of a statement. Engagement is more of a category.” And the idea of writing a post on ice cream and engagement was inevitable at that point. 

Walk into an ice cream parlour and ask simply for “ice cream,” and there’s a whole lot of interpretation that will have to happen between your order being taken and it being filled. The same can be said about engagement. Engagement is a result of something happening at a foundational level within an organization. But when we refer to engagement as a metric, we lose sight of what we are trying to measure and understand. Yesterday I talked about engagement being the result of shared values, which is foundational to your organization. 

When we, at Hölmetrics talk about engagement, we’re talking about a whole host of things. These include:

  1. attachment to your work and workplace
  2. influence over aspects of the work itself
  3. possibilities for development
  4. and even variation in the work people do
  5. control over your work schedule
  6. meaning of the work you do

Questions we can ask as leaders to identify whether or not we’re hitting on these four things with our people would be:

  1. Are you enjoying your job?
  2. Can you influence the amount of work assigned to you? 
  3. Do you have the possibility of learning new things through your work? 
  4. Do you have to do the same thing over and over again? 
  5. Can you decide when to take a break? 
  6. Do you feel that the work you do is important? 

Start asking your people these questions and listen to the feedback they give you. You’re on your way to understanding the root caused of disengagement in your workplace.