Work Engagement: Your Organisation’s Superpower

What is it?

According to Psychologists Bakker and Schaufelli, work engagement is defined as a positive, fulfilling work-related state of mind characterized by vigour, dedication and absorption. What does this mean?

1) Vigour – People are energetic and have the capacity and will to fully invest and immerse themselves in their work.

2) Dedication –  People are passionate and enthused about their work.

3) Absorption – People are completely engrossed in their work activities.

Why it matters

The results are in – there is a salient need for engagement within organisations. A recent Gallup study found that organisations who have engaged employees are four times more profitable than those who do not. How is this so? Engagement brings higher ownership, which can foster entrepreneurial thinking to drive innovation, continuous improvement and increased customer satisfaction. Highly engaged employees also think of novel ways to improve how we work and service customers. A further benefit of employee engagement is higher job satisfaction, which in turn keeps attrition rates low.

Given the value of employee engagement, how can we engage our team?

Two effective ways of engaging our team is through self-determination theory and job crafting.


Self-Determination Theory (SDT)

Renowned and revered Psychologists, Deci and Ryan, coined the theory of motivation known as SDT. This is a theory that claims people will become self-motivated if their needs for competence, autonomy and relatedness are met.

Let’s break this down:

As a leader, we can raise employee engagement by means of ensuring our employees’ needs for competence, autonomy and relatedness are met. Here are three examples:

1) Competence – Provide extensive training for your team so that they feel fully confident in their competence. Cultivating a culture of learning has been shown to boost employee engagement.

2) Autonomy – Allow your team a certain amount of freedom and space to make decisions around how they complete their work. Ask them what medium of communication they prefer – email, Whatsapp or phone calls?

3) Relatedness – You can make sure your teams’ need for relatedness is met by creating regular opportunities for feedback and encouraging employees to speak candidly. You may also organise team activities to boost social connections such as a zoom quiz or meal out.

Job Crafting

The second way in which we can boost engagement is through job crafting. This is a concept whereby we alter (or add to) certain elements of our role when we feel we need a change.

To increase work engagement within your team, you can speak to them about the possibility of crafting their job. There are three different types of job crafting: task crafting, relationship crafting and cognitive crafting.

1) Task crafting – This can involve adding or dropping certain responsibilities outlined in the job description in order to shape or mold the role to fit the employees’ needs. For example, an employee could offer to take over the organisation’s social media accounts.

2) Relationship crafting – This involves the employee altering the people they interact with within their role. This may look like creating interdepartmental relationships or task forces.

3) Cognitive crafting – The employee changes the way they look at or interpret the tasks they’re responsible for, such as focusing on appreciating their contribution to the big picture of the organisation’s mission.

Key takeaways

1) Work engagement is a positive work-related state of mind characterised by vigour, dedication and absorption.

2) It’s important because it boosts productivity, revenue and job satisfaction whilst lowering attrition rates.

3) Engagement can be achieved through implementing Self-Determination Theory and allowing your team to job craft.

4) Engage your team by ensuring their needs for competence, autonomy and relatedness are met.

5) Allow your team to job craft if they feel they need a change.

6) Explore with your team the three different types of job crafting – task crafting, relationship crafting and cognitive crafting.

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