Being employed is a little bit like being in a relationship – it requires commitment from all parties for it to be an effective, lasting partnership. It is easy to put all the responsibility in the lap of your employer for your workplace engagement, but in reality there is a lot individuals can do improve their own engagement – and by doing so, you may just stand out from the crowd.
Let’s start with the really simple stuff.
- Attend the big meetings
If your Division Head/CEO has scheduled an all staff meeting, make the time to go. I hate to say it, but you aren’t that much busier than everyone else, your project isn’t that much more complex, you aren’t that special. If the CEO has made time, you can make time. It is easier to sit at your desk and tell everyone how busy you are then it is to take the hour or so out of your schedule and take an interest in the business as a whole.
- The big picture is important
That’s one reason why the big meetings are important, they should help you understand what your organisation is trying to achieve. If it isn’t really evident to you, ask your boss/line manager questions about organisational goals and aspirations. Find out how your work, or the work of your team, fits in.
Some harder things to do
- Bring your outside passions to work
Are you particularly environmentally conscious and concerned about the lack of green practices in your workplace – mention it, but be part of the solution. I’ve seen a group, with the support of their managers, set themselves up as the organisation’s ‘green team’. They set goals to reduce paper usage and improve recycling across the organisation. They sent tips to all employees and monitored our progress. The whole organisation got updates on how we had improved and the organisation got the benefit of having a whole bunch of greener employees in the long run.
It doesn’t just need to be environmental nor something for during work hours – if you like the theatre, or movies, or yoga, or running, or brewing your own beer, or animals, or baking you will probably find there are other people you work with that would like to be a part of your passion, if you organise it.
- Be proactive
If your manager isn’t taking the lead in your engagement, you can. It is important to remain solution focussed. Asking to meet with your manager and telling them that you don’t feel engaged in the workplace isn’t the best start. Asking to meet with your manager and suggesting you’d like to take the lead on something like – a team lunch, Christmas party, someone’s farewell, setting up a social group, a staff survey, a new team meeting format, developing a new tool to improve reporting, creating a suite of templates to streamline routine work, and so on – demonstrates to your manager you are keen to be engaged in the workplace.
You know best what your workplace needs. Be realistic about what you can individually achieve, with your day-to-day work commitments and skills. But if you can find an hour or two each week to engage with your workplace, and not just your work, you most certainly will find your workplace a much more enjoyable place to be.