We’ve all heard the term employee engagement before, and we also know how hard it is to achieve. When I think of employee engagement, some things that come to mind are the usual employee of the month award, gold star program or in-house training and development opportunities. Those can be great, but I have come to realize that many engagement efforts are missing a key ingredient for success, which in my opinion is “purpose”.

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“When you do something with purpose, you do it with determination. When your activities have a purpose, you have an aim or intention in mind.”

This quote from a helpful online dictionary helped me understand one of the fundamental reasons for putting resources into employee engagement, which is ultimately motivating employees to achieve a higher level of productivity.

The theory is that when employees are engaged, the company will deliver a higher value to its customers, which will lead to more success overall. Sounds great, right? In my opinion, this theory is missing something. The intent is worthy; however, it appears that the end goal is just to have a successful company. From the perspective of an employee, most would agree that’s a good thing, but it also implies that the employee is just a means to an end.

To truly have an engaged workforce, the emphasis should be placed more directly on the success of the employee, which in turn can create a more valuable organization.

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One difficult but effective way to achieve this is to help employees find and cultivate their own unique passion.

The definition I’m using for passion is “a strong or extravagant fondness, enthusiasm, or desire”. One’s passion is, for some, incredibly difficult to find. However, once it’s found it can become an extremely powerful motivator.

For example, my own passion is to help others discover and live their purpose. This translates perfectly to my job with the Peak Academy because we are essentially doing the exact same thing from a process perspective. We strive to help city employees discover the value of their work, and improve the process behind it to deliver the highest possible value to their customers.

One of our public health investigators here at the city has an incredible passion for public health and safety, which has helped him become one of the most productive employees in his division. Because his supervisor and manger are aware of that passion, they continually find ways to help him utilize it by giving him unique opportunities that support and expand his skills and talents.

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This style of employee engagement is a tailored approach to each unique individual, and it can be done consistently if it’s given enough support. Like I said, it’s not easy. It requires considerable effort on behalf of managers and supervisors. They must have the ability to understand enough about their staff to utilize their purpose and passion, for the good of the individual and the organization.

At the end of the day, most employees prefer to enjoy their work, rather than just putting their 8 hours in and going home. If we can put energy and effort into helping them find a purpose, and ways to utilize it, passion and productivity will follow.

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