When an individual is first hired there is typically some form of orientation to familiarize them with the company, its values and mission, polices and what is generally expected. They might also get to meet other staff and members of management and from this they slowly get a sense for what is the culture of the organization.
However the bulk of their training is more skills based. What are the tasks associated with the work they have been assigned to? What are the expectations associated with that? Whether this is classroom based or on the job they become familiar with the tasks because that is what will drive their performance. This is correct, but only up to a point. This will allow them to achieve a level of performance that is described as functional. This could be classified as minimum expectations, staying below the radar, executed safely and nobody is complaining. Pay me a fair wage and I’ll do my job.
However for many progressive organizations this is not enough.In fact they would argue that the above situation over time breeds complacency, shortcuts, unsafe practices, etc and ultimately a deterioration in performance. Rather they are looking to ways of “pushing the envelope” and continuously striving to be better, more innovative, more competitive and demonstrate greater financial performance. In order to achieve this, employees need to be performing at an optimal level where they willing and want to go the extra mile.
At this level people are much more collaborative, innovative, continuous improvement is the norm and ironically people are much happier. The main characteristic of this type of environment is that the workforce is engaged. In fact, relative to industry benchmarks, if 60% of the workforce is engaged, it is enough to create a positive impact on the rest of the organization and drive this type of performance. So it’s not that everybody has to be fully engaged; rather a critical mass can have an overriding influence to positively impact the entire organization. This is realistic and achievable.
Engagement is something that has to be seen, felt and experienced over time. It is a behavior rather than a skill. It reflects the atmosphere, the way people interact and how people are motivated beyond pay and benefits. When employees “feel good” about their organization, they take the initiative, they praise their company, they persist when things get tough and ultimately they perform over and above what is expected of them.