Work-Life Strategies & Solutions

On the Evolution of Work Systems in the Digital Economy

The Engagement Equation: Leadership Strategies for an Inspired Workforce

In The Engagement Equation: Leadership Strategies for an Inspired Workforce, authors Christopher Rice, Fraser Marlow, and Mary Ann Masarech provide a thorough guide for organizational leaders interested in improving work engagement. At the outset, they establish that engagement is a unique construct that is distinguishable from satisfaction, motivation, and commitment. Furthermore, employee engagement is an individualized equation expressed as the combination of maximum satisfaction for the individual and maximum contribution for the organization. From there, they discuss particular industries (e.g., where there is a high degree of interaction with customers) in which employee engagement particularly impacts results. Additionally, the authors caution against assuming measures that have increased engagement in one geographic region would similarly increase engagement in another.

A discussion about building a culture that supports engagement follows. The importance of helping employees identify their strengths, weaknesses, and needs in order to ensure job-fit, culture-fit, and suitable working conditions is highlighted.  Providing career coaching and development services also goes a long way to help employees envision a career that mutually addresses the needs of both individuals and the organization.

Finally, The Engagement Equation covers possible pitfalls of implementing strategies to increase engagement. First, the authors warn that maintaining a high engagement culture is an ongoing effort. In other words, sporadic interventions here and there will not create the results desired. Secondly, organizational leaders, managers, down to everyone in the organization must be on board and responsible for their own engagement level. It takes engaged individuals to foster a culture of engagement. Finally, leaders must be prepared to follow through with an action plan in a timely manner once the initial engagement level assessment is taken. The authors caution against utilizing an engagement survey and not following-up with action as the interest in increasing engagement may then come across as disingenuous leading to even higher levels of employee disengagement. Alternative means of making the initial engagement assessment are provided.

It is difficult to provide an adequate summary of all the useful points made in this book. It provides a clear, comprehensive, and practical guideline for beginning and continuing an action plan to foster a culture of engagement. Furthermore, it will dispel some preconceived notions of how implementation of such a program should proceed (e.g., the assumption that it is most beneficial to start assessment with an employee engagement survey).

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