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What is the key business need that youd like to address using engagement strategies?

Assignment See document for detailed instructions:

* Complete Action Plan 

* No plagiarism 

* See Lectures for additional resources 

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ILRDI001: Improving Engagement

Cornell University ILR School

Improving Engagement Action Plan

In this course, you have examined the foundational drivers of engagement, as well as the research underlying engagement and the components of successful engagement initiatives. You have looked at some of the innovative and creative ways that people have used engagement strategies at other organizations. There are several approaches you might choose to take, depending on your needs. For example:

· A leader working within an organization could choose to tailor this action plan to improve engagement initiatives across the organization, if that person has such oversight.

· A team leader or manager could tailor this action plan to improve engagement within a team or work group.

· Any individual could choose to approach this from a personal point of view and tailor this action plan to suit the goals of a particular work situation. (If you are working on this for your own benefit and not for the benefit of a wider work group, you may choose to discuss this action plan with your manager or team lead to get feedback about what steps and strategies might work best for you.)

Complete the grid below

Key Business Problem(s)

What is the key business need that you’d like to address using engagement strategies? This may relate to employee productivity, employee morale, employee energy and motivation, the quality or volume of work being produced, and so on. Describe your business problem here.


Which of the drivers of engagement discussed in this course have you identified as possible root causes of the business problem(s) identified above? What will be your strategy for driving change? Identify your strategies here.


Outline the specific steps you plan to take to implement your chosen engagement strategies. What will you do first, second, and third? What actions will you take? What key stakeholders might you need to involve—how and why? Be as specific as you can in outlining your plans.


Set a deadline for yourself. When will you have your steps completed? What will you have done by the end of this month, by the end of next month, and by the end of this quarter?


Identify how you will define success. How will you measure your results? How will you know if your efforts are effective? Your measurement should relate to the business problem you identified above: how will you measure whether your engagement efforts have had a positive impact on that problem? Describe your measurement plans here.


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Action Plan

See word.doc – “Action Plan”

This “ Action Plan document ” can guide your efforts on the job.

In this discussion, you examined the foundational drivers of engagement as well as the research underlying engagement and the components of successful engagement initiatives. You looked at some of the innovative and creative ways people have used engagement strategies at other organizations.

If you find it helpful to do so, you can use the Action Plan here to outline a plan for yourself that will guide your efforts within your own organization.


There are several approaches you might choose to take, depending on your needs. For example:

· Any individual could choose to approach this from a personal point of view and tailor the Action Plan to suit particular goals for a work situation. (If you are working on this for your own benefit and not for the benefit of a wider work group, you may choose to discuss this Action Plan with your manager or team lead to get feedback about what steps and strategies might work best for you.)

· A project team leader could tailor this action plan to improving engagement within a specific project team.

· A manager could bring this to bear within ongoing team-wide engagement efforts.

· Complete the “Action plan”

· Extensive and comprehensive answer/statement

· No plagiarism

· APA citing


How Engagement Predicts Performance

In this video, Professor Nishii explains the differences between the drivers that promote job satisfaction and the drivers that promote engagement, as well as the research that demonstrates that engagement is a far greater predictor of individual performance than is satisfaction. The factors that drive engagement are focused much more on the facets of the work that people do and their immediate work context. These are more within the control of immediate managers than are the drivers of satisfaction.

So, engagement is important because it predicts performance. And making this distinction that we've talked about between engagement and other employee attitudes, like satisfaction, is important because it is engagement, and not satisfaction, that predicts performance. What you see here in this table, are the results of some research that link satisfaction and engagement on the one hand, with firm-level performance on the other. And what you'll see here is that although satisfaction and engagement are related concepts, they're correlated about .6, it turns out that only engagement is associated with return on assets and with profits at the firm level and satisfaction is not. And this is because engagement refers to the psychological and behavioral energy, associated with work. It's that energy that yields performance. Satisfaction as I've said refers more to how people feel about the organization, what the organization does for them, and how content they are with the employment kind of arrangement that they have with the organization. It tells us nothing about their work-related behaviors or engagement. Here's another graphic. This is from a research study that looks at how engagement versus other attitudes, and satisfaction is one of the attitudes in this study, are associated with individual level employee performance. And what you'll see here is that there's some drivers in the three circles in the left column, and it's not that important for us to delve into what these really mean, but what you'll see is that these drivers influence engagement there on the top, and satisfaction. And for now, we'll just focus on those two. But it is only engagement that significantly predicts performance, satisfaction does not. You can identify which relationships or paths, are statistically significant by looking for the ones with the little asterisks on them. So you'll see here that engagement is associated with, predicts performance, task performance, as well as what some people refer to as citizenship behaviors. These are the kinds of behaviors that go above and beyond the call of duty. They might not be part of one's formal job description. But research is pretty clear in showing that the difference between an average worker and a great worker. The difference between a mediocre company and a super company is the willingness of employees to engage in these discretionary behaviors, the above and beyond the call of duty kinds of behaviors. And it is engagement that predicts employees' willingness to engage in these citizenship behaviors.

Two Forms of Engagement Energy

There are two forms of engagement energy, as Professor Nishii explains: psychological energy and behavioral energy. Psychological energy refers to psychological absorption and focus. Being fully absorbed in one’s work comes close to what has been called  flow, a state of optimal experience that is characterized by focused attention, clear mind, mind and body union, effortless concentration, complete control, loss of self-consciousness, distortion of time, and intrinsic enjoyment. Behavioral energy refers to people's actions. It may be useful to keep in mind that sometimes people experience psychological and behavioral engagement in some but not all aspects of their jobs.

So when it comes to engagement, it's important to realize that there are really two forms of engagement energy. The first is psychological, and refers to things like absorption and focus and intensity of your attention. Flow, mental resilience and enthusiasm. And the other is behavioral energy. So that's when that psychological engagement gets translated into behaviors. Ideally, behaviors that are strategically focused and help the organization to fulfill its mission. These engagement behaviors refer to things like being willing to and able to anticipate opportunities to take action. And taking action rather than feeling like problems are something that management should take care of. Involves being proactive, and taking initiative and actively finding ways to expand ones skills. And also persisting in the face of obstacles. And the reason it's important to distinguish between psychological engagement and behavioral engagement, is that the psychological experience of engagement can be expressed in various ways. And so knowing whether or not it is translated into the types of behaviors that drive organizational performance is really important for organizations to know. So, if you see that employees are highly engaged from the psychological perspective, but the behavioral outcomes of engagement don't follow, that could be because of a number of different things. It could be because employees are not totally clear on how to channel that energy in a way that would be most beneficial for the organization. But it could also be because there are constraints in the environment that make it difficult for the employee to actually be able to engage in the behaviors that are desired by the organization. That's why it's important to distinguish between the two.


Engagement and High Potentials

You might assume high-potential employees are among the most engaged, but research shows that not to be the case, as Professor Nishii explains in this video. The percentage of employees who are actively disengaged ranges from 10-20%, and the estimate is higher among "high potentials," or star players, as compared to average employees. The high-potential employees are the ones you do not want to lose, and this suggests that you have to increase your efforts to keep young stars engaged. That may mean recognizing them early and often, exciting them by linking their individual goals to corporate ones, and letting them help solve the company’s biggest problems.

Okay, so I wanted to talk a little bit about engagement and high potentials. So high-potential employees are presumably the employees that offer the most value to organizations. The employees the organizations really care most about keeping. And you might be surprised to hear that the data shows that high- potential employees tend to be more disengaged, right. The levels of disengagement among high potentials is higher than it is among average employees. There was a study done by the Corporate Leadership Council of about 100 companies worldwide. And what they found was that the number one mistake that companies make when it comes to developing and retaining their high-potential talent is assuming that their high potentials are highly engaged. In reality however, one in three high-potential employees admits to not being engaged in their work. And one in four admits that they intend to leave the company within a year. So why is that the case? There are a couple of explanations. One is that high potentials have high expectations. They know that they are performing, right? Or that they're better anyway than their peers, therefore, they've been labeled as high potentials. And they expect to be treated well by the company in return. The other reason is that they have more alternatives. So if they were told to kind of tough it out, they would be more likely to say, no thank you. Because they have the confidence that if they were to look on the market, they'd probably be able to find another job. And so companies are responding to this by trying to engage their high potentials in different ways. And ways that help these high-potential employees to feel like they are having an impact. That there is significance associated, right, with value that's attached to the contributions that they make. So one company, for example, set up a forum, a discussion forum, that involve the CEO directly with high potential employees. And the CEO would pose questions that keep him up at night, right. Challenges that the company faces. And open it up for the high-potential employees to offer their ideas about how the company might address those issues. And this gave the high-potential employees an opportunity to really feel like they were being listened to. That it mattered that they had access to the top. And this was enough to increase their engagement and to lower their intentions to leave the company.

Even when the bonus pool is running dry, companies can still get their high-potential talent excited, says Professor Nishii. One retail company rewards its stars by running banner ads celebrating their successes on its intranet, offering them telecommuting or other flexible work options, and even naming company-wide initiatives after them. A large manufacturer gives rising stars privileged access to online discussion boards led by the CEO that are dedicated to the company’s biggest challenges. Emerging leaders are encouraged to visit the boards daily to share ideas and opinions and to raise their hands for assignments. The site not only boosts their involvement and captures innovative ideas but also gives the CEO and other senior leaders a direct line to the company’s best and brightest.

Engagement vs. Other Attitudes

It's critical to distinguish between engagement and other employee attitudes such as organizational satisfaction, commitment, and pride, as Professor Nishii explains. Measures of employee attitudes like satisfaction or pride to work for the company tell us nothing about how absorbed employees are in the work that they do, nor about the extent of discretionary effort they are investing in their work.

Okay, now let's compare engagement with other related employee attitudes. The term engagement is used by almost everybody, but in reality it's actually rather loosely defined. I think when the term was first introduced, people were so enamored with it that the concept sort of took off before there were clear definitions and measurement tools around engagement. And sometimes I've seen surveys are stamped with the label engagement survey. But if you dig deeper into the survey, you find that actually the core concepts underlying engagement aren't really the focus of measurement and instead, these surveys are measuring other related employee attitudes like satisfaction and commitment. They're related but they're not the same as engagement. And it's important for you to know the difference between engagement and satisfaction. Engagement is more than satisfaction. While engagement involves striving and seeking and that energy that people invest, in the form of initiative and perseverance, satisfaction implies contentment with one's current state. It reflects an employee's global evaluation of their relationship with the organization. And it's determined by factors like job security and employee benefits, and promotion opportunity. These drivers usually cannot really be changed all that much by managers. They require corporate-level change. But in contrast, engagement, the drivers of engagement have more to do with the work itself and are more under the control of a line manager. The factors that impact an employee's ability to maximize his or her contribution to the company, these are the drivers of engagement. So examples are things like having a chance to use one's skills. And being able to see a clear link between one's work and a company's objectives. Many of these things are things that the manager can help to influence. So I'm going to give you an example. I have a friend who loves his job. He's paid pretty well. He can take long lunch breaks without really getting in trouble, the work isn't all too hard, his coworkers are friendly, he gets to dress casually, he has good health insurance, and the company has a good reputation. So he's proud to say that he works for this company. So in terms of commitment and satisfaction, off the charts, really high. But is he a highly engaged employee? 

Not necessarily. I'll give you another analogy. So imagine my boyfriend gave me a ring and I said "what's this?" And he said "this is a satisfaction ring." That would connote something pretty different than if he said, this is an engagement ring. A satisfaction ring would connote that he's content with how things have been and would like to express that. Whereas saying it's an engagement ring suggests that he is investing himself into the future of this relationship and is willing to do whatever it takes to keep the relationship nice and strong because he believes in it and he wants it. So I hope those examples help you to see that they're not the same thing even though they are related.

The Difference Between Engagement and Satisfaction

Key Points

Only engagement actually predicts employee performance.

Engagement involves striving, seeking, and passion.

Satisfaction involves how content people are with their work arrangement.

The research is clear: Even though satisfaction and engagement are related constructs, only engagement actually predicts employee performance. This is because engagement — but not satisfaction — refers to the psychological and behavioral energy associated with work, and it is this energy that yields performance, not employee satisfaction with their employment arrangement.

Engagement involves striving, seeking, and passion — investment in the organization’s success. It connotes activation and energy; and by "energy," think of the psychological and behavioral energy associated with work. It is this energy that yields performance.

Satisfaction is more about what people report the organization does for them and how content they are with their arrangement; it tells us nothing about their work-related energy or behaviors. Satisfaction connotes contentment with the current state: the work conditions, the employment arrangement, job security, employee benefits, promotion opportunities, and so on. These drivers may be what attracts people to the job but not what engages them once they are in the job.


Module Introduction: Examine the Drivers of Engagement

In this module, you will have an opportunity to examine the conditions that must be in place for employees to be highly engaged. Professor Nishii will present the key psychological drivers that are necessary for engagement. You will examine these drivers and explore how their presence in the workplace can be enhanced through effective management strategies. You will also apply the framework of engagement drivers to diagnose root causes of suboptimal levels of engagement within the workplace and begin to identify hypotheses about appropriate solutions. You will conduct an interview of an effective manager or leader so you can identify effective engagement strategies in action. You will also examine great examples of companies that are fostering engagement within their organizations.

There are three key drivers of engagement, as Professor Nishii explains. They are psychological meaningfulness (having a reason to engage), psychological safety (experiencing the freedom and safety to engage), and psychological availability (having the capacity to engage). These are the conditions that must be met in order for employees to be engaged, and each has significant implications, as you will see.

Okay, there are three primary dimensions of drivers of engagement. The first is psychological meaningfulness. And this has to do whether or not people feel that they have a reason to engage in their work. And this really has a lot to do with the characteristics of one's job. And it involves structuring jobs so that they have what we call high motivating potential. Jobs that have high motivating potential tend to be challenging, they're experienced as being meaningful by employees, they provide opportunities for autonomy and impact, and they involve specific and difficult goals. People tend to get feedback about how they're doing so that they know how to adjust their efforts in order to be able to perform well, right. So they overall feel like the job is set up so that if they do pour themselves into their work, it is a meaningful experience. The underlying principal is referred to as social exchange. The idea is that if you give people challenging and meaningful work, and you set them up for success, then they will reciprocate by pouring themselves into their work. 

The second dimension is called psychological safety. And that has to do with whether or not people experience the freedom and the safety to engage in their work rather than feeling like they have to protect themselves in some way. We've probably all encountered situations in which we feel like we shouldn't dare speak up with suggestions about how something maybe could be done differently. And if that's how we feel it's because we don't experience complete psychological safety. But it also means that by withholding that idea, we're not fully engaged in the work. Right? And nor is the organization able to potentially leverage the great ideas that we might have, because we don't feel safe to share them. So this dimension of psychological safety is primarily influenced by social elements. Things like experiencing trust, high trust relationships. Employees who feel that they're treated fairly by management tend to experience higher levels of psychological safety. They need to basically feel like they're supported by management and that they're not vulnerable in the face of management. In order to really fully engage. 

Employees need to feel like its safe to bring their full selves, their true selves to work. That there won't be some risk associated with doing so. The third dimension is psychological availability. And it has to do with having the capacity to engage. Do I have what it takes to engage fully in my job? It has to do with someone's individual circumstances. In particular with someone's kind of physical energy or physical resources. So, when people don't have the opportunity to renew as much as they need to outside of work. Or they're experiencing too much strain on the job, and experiencing burnout as a result. It ends up influencing how much they really can engage in the job. But that's not the only thing that impacts availability. The other thing that impacts availability is a person's confidence in their ability to do the job. In order for people to be really engaged in their work, they have to feel like, they're confident that if they invest themselves in their work, they're likely to succeed. And so this highlights the importance of providing kind of continual training, and reskilling, and developmental opportunities and feedback, so that employees can feel confident about their ability to do the job.

Examine the Three Drivers in Detail

Key Points

Psychological meaningfulness: having a reason to engage

Psychological safety: having the freedom and safety to engage

Psychological availability: having the capacity to engage

Now you will examine in detail the three drivers for engagement. These drivers, or conditions, need to be met in order for employees to be able to fully engage in their work. Each of them has elements that can be influenced by line managers.

Psychological Meaningfulness

Psychological meaningfulness is described as "having a reason to engage." This dimension is about work elements. It involves structuring jobs so that they have high motivating potential, or are challenging, meaningful, and provide opportunities for autonomy and involve specific and difficult goals. It also involves treating employees in a way that reinforces their natural tendency to reciprocate (i.e., principles of social exchange). If you give people challenging and meaningful work and set them up for success, they will reciprocate.

Two key sets of work factors are influential here:

1. The motivating potential of one’s job, as determined by job characteristics:

· Challenge and variety: When jobs fail to provide both challenge and variety in the tasks involved, it is easier for employees to become bored and/or robotic in the ways they approach their work.

· Significance: Jobs are more motivating when people are able to see the significance or impact of their work for others (or for the company at large). When people can see how others depend on their efforts, they tend to be more motivated in their work.

· Autonomy and control: The more latitude people have to channel their energies productively to continuously improve the way they do their work, the more they will actually do so.

· Clarity: Being unclear about performance expectations is frustrating and can make it difficult for employees to know whether an investment of their energies will lead to desired outcomes.

· Feedback and rewards: Feedback about the specific behaviors that are highly valued helps people to direct their energy more meaningfully. When combined with formal and informal recognition for good work, employees are more likely to feel that their investment in doing good work is worthwhile.

· Fit and identification: People tend to experience greater pleasure and fulfillment from what they do if they are in jobs or roles that match their interests, values, strengths, and skills.

2. Meaningful work interactions:

· Rewarding and meaningful interpersonal connections: The quality of one’s relationships with coworkers determines whether they feel they can contribute meaningfully to the group’s work (versus feeling taken for granted).

· Being seen as a person, not merely as a job incumbent: Does one feel worthwhile, useful, and valuable? Does one feel that their efforts are noticed and appreciated?

· Coworker coordination and support: Poor coordin

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