What does the word engage mean to you? If you use the dictionary definition it can mean several things – to hold something (like attention), to bind yourself to do something (like getting married), or even to go into battle (to engage the enemy). But in our workplaces, being engaged means we’re involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to our work and workplace. It’s a powerful thought – being engaged drives results, productivity, and innovation, and most importantly makes work a better place for each one of us. But an engaged work culture’s not a given – it’s a result we must work toward together to achieve and hold ourselves responsible for.
As you may have read in Mark Lowe’s August director’s report, we’ll soon be starting an initiative we’re calling #Engage. The strategy is to measure how engaged we are, and couple that with analysis and training that gives managers and supervisors the information and resources we all need to work together to sustain a culture of engagement over time. Starting down this path is not a sign that we’re doing anything wrong or that our culture is bad, but only the recognition that in his area, better is always a good thing.
So, is this just the next “flavor-of-the-month” survey that we take time to complete and then nothing ever comes of it? Mark promises it isn’t. We’re working with Gallup, a world leader in organizational improvement and engagement, in a program of engagement, not a one and done survey. Mark said, “We have committed to this program for at least the next four years. In the past, we’ve developed our own survey tools and spent a lot of time worrying about how things are worded and what specific questions or responses mean. By using a tried-and-true tool called Q12 from Gallup, we get the benefit of their more than 25 years of experience developing the survey and analyzing the results from more than 25 million employees, so we can be confident in what the results tell us and in the strategies they recommend to make real change over time. The survey is just a tool we’ll use at regular intervals (at least yearly) to tell us how we’re doing, but the real focus is always on the action we take between surveys -- together – to improve our results.
Mark continued, “It’s always true that our employees are going to be our most important resource. Measuring our engagement and holding ourselves responsible for attaining a high level of engagement honors that, by helping us build and sustain a work culture that’s good and successful for all of us.”
An important word in all of this is together. This isn’t just a task for supervisors and managers, it’s an opportunity for all of us. When we get done with the first round of the survey, we’ll ask managers and supervisors to share the engagement results with their teams to open discussions that lead to an action plan for team improvement. This is a collaborative process that should give everyone an opportunity to contribute and share opinions.
To help managers and teams do this and to help us sustain this over time, we’re developing 25 champions that will be specifically trained to help managers, supervisors, and their teams build and follow their plans.
While the champions are being selected and trained, the rest of us will soon be asked to answer the first Q12 survey. This is an electronic survey. Everyone will get a link to it in their email. For those employees who don’t regularly access email, your supervisor will be asked to provide time and access to you to complete the survey.
The 12 simple questions can be answered in just a few minutes on a workstation, laptop, or mobile device. Your answers are completely anonymous and will never be used for performance reviews or evaluations. The survey is voluntary, but the more of us who participate, the more information that will be available to help make our work units more productive, fun and engaged.
For more information about the #Engage effort, go to https://iowadot.gov/EmployeeEngagement/ or the Iowa DOT’s employee website, https://iowadot.gov/employees. Also, watch your email and the blog for more information and updates as we get further into #Engage.