I have to admit that this is a question we are often asked when we are working with clients. You might be surprised to find that CEO’s and employees ask this question.
In essence, what they are trying to understand and, more importantly, picture in their mind, is what could high levels of employee engagement look like for them individually or as an organisation as a whole.
I think this is a fair question – it’s quite easy to be glib and say, engagement is when employees put themselves out, when they go the extra mile, when they give great service to both internal and external customer and so on. That’s fine but it is really important to frame it and give clear examples of what this can look like on a day-to-day basis.
I use a couple of striking examples to demonstrate to people how engagement can actually be seen. I thought I’d share one with you today.
When work gear isn’t worn at work.
A recent piece of work has involved me running a series of group sessions discussing with employees what makes their organisation unique and different from others and also what blockages there are in their day-to-day work. We got talking about the ‘unique’ aspects and what was coming out incredibly strongly was the pride that employees felt about working for their organisation, nothing necessarily new here you might say. In fact, it’s not that uncommon to find this, even when engagement levels aren’t that high.
The difference in this interest was surprising – over half of the employees are required to wear branded work attire. Unfortunately it’s not provided free of charge but it is subsidised. So employees need to purchase polo and t-shirts, sweatshirts and the like to wear at work.
In nearly every session I ran the feedback was the same – people wore their work clothes ‘outside’ of work – they didn’t rush to take it off when they got home. In fact, people consciously wore their work gear when they went out. When I asked why – I was told that is was because the public regularly stopped them in the street. They would comment how great it must be to work for this organisation and what great products they make.
The sense of pride goes way beyond the norm in this case. I’m not aware of many organisations where employees are keen, let alone actively look, to wear their work gear outside of work!
I think this is wonderful example of how high engagement can manifest itself within an organisation.
How many of you would be proud enough to go out wearing branded work clothes?