Today the Engagement Zone sits down with #Engagement101 Influencer Jason Lauritsen. With an extensive background in business and HR spanning over 20 years, Jason Lauristen has become a key authority in employee engagement. Often referred to as a “workplace evangelist”, Lauritsen presents engaging talks on creating a more engaging work environment as a keynote speaker and author. We ask Jason his thoughts on employee engagement and how it should be implemented.
We’d also like to thank Jason for advising us this year in North America. You can hear him speak & meet him at our North American Conference in Chicago this June.
EZ: What does employee engagement mean to you?
JASON: I believe that work should feel meaningful and positive for every employee, regardless of their role. When employees feel this way about work, they perform better. For me, employee engagement means helping organizations to create a work experience that accomplishes this.
EZ: What are your three tips for companies looking to drive engagement in their organisations?
1 – Get clear on what engagement means for your organization and how it impacts your success. Creating this clarity will help you focus your efforts for the best results.
2 – Help managers understand the benefits of creating an engaged team to their own success. Too many managers view engagement as an HR initiative that doesn’t benefit them. Engaged teams outperform disengaged teams and they are far more fun to manage.
3 – Give managers the training and tools to have a more positive impact on their teams. Focus on how they can make small changes in how they manage to create a more positive impact.
EZ: What do you feel are the biggest pitfalls that companies should look to avoid when executing their engagement strategy?
JASON: The biggest pitfall for most organizations is the absence of a strategy. It’s critical to have a strategy that defines what engagement is, why it matters, how you will foster it organizationally, and how you’ll measure success.
Without a solid strategy in place, it’s common for engagement to be seen as an event—a once a year survey that employees and managers endure. For engagement to be meaningful, it must be part of how you do things not just an occasional event.
EZ: Why do employees fail to buy in when companies try to ramp up engagement?
JASON: I’m not sure it’s an employee’s responsibility to “buy in” to engagement. It’s hard to blame employees for being sceptical. A lot of employees have seen “engagement surveys” come and go without much happening to improve their day to day work experience.
Employees want a work experience that is positive and supportive. Show them you are committed to doing that with your actions and they will reward you with effort and loyalty.
EZ: What skills are most useful for everyone to have when trying to move towards a culture of engagement?
JASON: Communication skills are most important. If organizations were better at communicating, engagement wouldn’t be nearly as much of a challenge. Teaching basic skills for how to listen and have conversations more effectively are foundational. Adding basic conflict management skills and how to share effective feedback can also have a profound impact.
EZ: You’re a judge for the Employee Engagement awards. What will you be looking for in the entries?
JASON: I’m looking for creative and effective programs that demonstrate a deep commitment to employee wellbeing and ensuring an engaging work experience for each employee.
EZ: How important do you think it is to connect Employee Engagement to Customer Engagement and why?
JASON: It’s important to connect engagement to meaningful business outcomes. Where it’s possible to link employee with customer engagement, you can gain some pretty powerful insights. But, that’s not the right answer for every organization.
EZ: What’s the best EE idea you’ve seen a company roll out/attempt and wish you’d had that idea yourself?
JASON: Performance management is so often disengaging for employees that I’m drawn to powerful ways to fix it. The approaches I believe are most powerful put the process in the hands of the employee. One organization requires employees to convene a group of their peers once per quarter for face to face feedback on their performance. While that may sound a little daunting at first, the process forces people to get better at communicating and providing feedback.
EZ: What’s the worst employee engagement idea that you have seen a company attempt to roll out?
JASON: A program that treats all employees as if they want the same kind of work experience are destined to fail. An example would be a company that requires all employees to work from home (or vice versa). Flexibility is an absolute necessity when it comes to creating an engaging culture. Each employee has different preferences and needs to be met.
EZ: Which person (dead or alive) would you love to be able to come in and speak to your workforce/colleagues?
JASON: At the top of the list for me is the legendary late basketball coach, John Wooden. What he accomplished at UCLA ranks him as one of the greatest coaches of all time in any sport. I chose him because I believe that coaching is rapidly replacing management as a more effective method to achieve both higher employee engagement and better organizational results.
EZ: Favourite song to crank up after a tough day at work?
JASON: Lean on Me by Club Nouveau
EZ: Best place in the world you have visited?
JASON: My wife and I were married in Jamaica. When I think of someplace I’d love to spend more time, it’s there. Jamaica is an amazingly beautiful place with such a wonderful, laid-back culture.
EZ: The place you’d most like to visit?
JASON: I’d love to spend some time in Australia. I’ve not been, but have heard nothing but great things about both the country and its people.
EZ: Thank you, Jason. We look forward to seeing you at The Employee Engagement Awards in Chicago.