It’s hard to make it through a day in corporate America without hearing several “buzz” words and phrases, such as, “Let’s take a streamlined approach” or “What does that option bring to the table?” Although nebulous and trendy, these buzz words are important because they help us draw a picture in our minds of what is being asked of us.
I think everyone agrees that high on both the obscure and importance buzz scale are the words “employee engagement.”
What exactly does “employee engagement” mean and why is it so important to the success of organizations?
Perhaps a good way to figure this out is to define what employee engagement is NOT. Employee engagement is not synonymous with employee happiness. And it does not mean employee satisfaction.
Rather, employee engagement is the emotional commitment an employee has to an organization and its goals. Employee engagement goes beyond taking home a paycheck. The “engaged” employee works hard because he believes in the organization’s mission and goals and recognizes its link to the greater good of the community.
At nonprofit organizations, engaged employees are the heart of their success. In fact, at United Way of North Central Florida, the commitment and passion employees have toward others in our community is the reason why United Way is the largest private funder of human services and non-governmental funder of education initiatives in our community. Employees who are emotionally committed to the work United Way does to improve education, income and health in our community are the volunteers who truly make a difference.
Recently, at a local breakfast of business and corporate leaders, Jon Gardner, Bank of America vice president and small-business manager, shared his thoughts on employee engagement:
“At Bank of America, our employees are engaged with United Way because they know their donations of time and resources directly help people in our community,” he said. “And, as a result of these opportunities to give and volunteer, our employees receive hands-on corporate citizenship training and exposure to issues in our community.”
The engaged employee gives to United Way and other organizations, not out of obligation, but out of the belief that his dollars will make a real difference to real people in their community. The engaged employee volunteers his time reading to children, not because he gets credit for doing so, but because that child will have the chance to succeed in school and in life because of his efforts. The engaged employee advocates for a better life for his neighbors, not because it’s the right thing to do but because he knows his one voice has the power to change lives and in doing so create positive momentum in his community.
John Power, Alachua County Chief Deputy Tax Collector and longtime engaged United Way donor and volunteer, added: “My Leadership-level commitment with United Way started with only $1 a paycheck more than 20 years ago and continues to grow each year. I remain engaged with United Way today because I understand the impact the community investment fund has on people living right here in our community”
At United Way, employee engagement goes beyond the buzz. Employee engagement is the key to truly lifting up our neighbors.