Deeper Engagement Through Values | Jobs In MD

Deeper Engagement Through Values

By: Jeremy Haskell

Engagement? Who's getting married? If you've spent any time at all in human resources over the past few years, I guarantee that you are familiar with the term, "employee engagement."

Confusion Around It

I have a confession to make. Whenever I read or hear the phrase, "employee engagement," I'm almost instantly transported to the mystical land of Florin and the famous words uttered by Inigo Montoya: "You keep using that word. I don't think it means what you think it means."

Now don't get me wrong, there is tremendous value in discussing and evaluating employee engagement, but there is a great deal of disconnect among practitioners about what it really means; and, more importantly, how to make it work for the organization in such a way that you surround yourself with the benefits of a "fully engaged workforce."

Unfamiliar Term

It seems that I'm not alone in this assessment. According to a recent study by Modern Survey, only 49 percent of all U.S. workers are familiar with the concept of employee engagement and just 63 percent of managers know what engagement means. With numbers like that, we are looking at a serious opportunity. After all, engaged employees are better performers, and better performance equals a healthier bottom line.

But how do you implement such an ethereal concept in practical terms?

Engagement Through Cultural Values

Thankfully, we have Ann Rhoades and the team at People Ink and her book, Built on Values. I first met Ann in May 2011 at the Maine HR Convention, and more recently caught up with her at the Strategic HR New England conference at New Hampshire's Mount Washington Hotel.

Ann speaks a lot about building the culture of your organization on values, but what does this really mean? The hard truth, and great opportunity, is that it takes a lot of hard work and emotional effort to distill your company's "values" into company ethos. It's more than being honest and trustworthy; it's about getting to the core of your mission, defining how you want to be seen in the world and then embracing actions that will help to bring those results.

What is your company's mission? What are the underlying values that drive that mission? If you can get the appropriate stakeholders together, from senior management to front-line workers, to not only understand those values, but the types of behaviors that exemplify those values, you are more than half way there.

Behavior Is the Key

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In speaking with Ann last fall, it became clear to me that the key to building a strong understanding of a values-based business is to define those behaviors that are critical in reinforcing "the words on the wall." It is the behavioral expectations that you can set which will enable employees to clearly understand what is expected of them. The best part? The rewards are exponential. Not only will your customers or clients receive the best possible service, this sense of a positive workplace ethos will reinforce your employees to engage even more, creating a vicious cycle of engagement and success.

The hardest part is to define your own unique employment brand and value proposition, distilling those down to specific identifiable values, and then setting a course for the behaviors to follow. It may not be easy, but it is absolutely worth it.

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In his dual role of Sales Manager/Business Development at, if Jeremy Haskell isn't busy developing new business partnerships and product initiatives, he's developing sales people. Working with companies, he advises them on recruiting strategies that result in reduced turnover and increased productivity. He holds a degree in psychology from Syracuse University and previously worked as a recruiter for Robert Half International. Jeremy is the recipient of many recognition awards and has developed and facilitated the company's peer mentoring program.