employee engagement

What does employee engagement actually look like?

Employee engagement is one of those terms that gets thrown around often. But what does employee engagement actually mean, and is it something that’s realistic to achieve across all industries?

With as much as we invest in improving employee engagement within our organisations, what are the signs that our efforts are working? What should we be looking out for?

Today we’re taking a good hard look at employee engagement. I’ve gone and asked various members of the Pragmatic Thinking crew, including our founders, facilitators and operations team, what employee engagement looks like.

Read on for some shareable quotes and surprising insights.


What does employee engagement actually look like?


Employee Engagement, according to a Psychologist:

Employee engagement can feel like an enigma. Here are two examples that leaders can look for that can point to a high level of employee engagement:

  1. Discretionary effort – that is the effort that individuals give in their roles that is above and beyond the standard. When they’re not doing the extra work for accolades, and instead do it because it needs to be done, it’s a clear sign of engagement.
  2. Never walking past it – those that pick-up rubbish, clean up desks, clear the whiteboard, check if a customer is okay and ask a colleague if they need help are the people in your team who are committed to what you are doing.


Employee Engagement, according to a Behavioural Scientist:

Employee Engagement is threefold. It’s engagement in your work; engagement with your team; and engagement in the organisation’s journey.

A focus on any one of the three will lead towards your team is more engaged in their work, but full, lasting employee engagement requires all three. 


Employee Engagement, according to a Facilitator with a HR background:

Often when we unpack what is wanted (in the form of employee engagement) in conversations with leaders, they will tell us they want things like this:

It’s home-time and on the way out, ‘Mack’ is carrying a load of boxes in from a workshop – rather than walking past and saying ‘Bye’ a teammate will stop and help carry the load up.  

The job is done (tick) but rather than stopping there, the person makes a call to the customer to let them know the progress of the work. 

If there is something not working and rather than the process being ignored, or the issue being walked past, the team member raises it with the right person or fixes it.

In saying all this, what do leaders want and what is a sign of engagement? Discretionary effort.

We aren’t asking for people to be working an additional 20 hours a week to meet a deadline, it’s the small one-percenters that make a difference; the people willingly doing, not by force or expectation, but by choice.

Employee engagement taps into freedom and human potential – the freedom of choice.


Employee Engagement, according to an Operations Manager:

In my view, employee engagement boils down to three key things:

  • Discretionary effort and being proactive. When I see team members taking action without being asked or going above and beyond.
  • Good energy. When individuals and teams show up with high energy and drive.
  • A positive outlook for the future.

When I see these three things in an employee, I have no doubt that they are fully engaged in the work they’re doing.


So, in summary, employee engagement can be boiled down to a few observable behaviours:

  • Going above and beyond for clients, teammates and the organisation
  • Showing up to the office with a smile and actively engaging with the team
  • A willingness to put up their hand to help or contribute ideas


Have you noticed your team exhibiting any (or all) of the above behaviours in the last month? If not, perhaps it’s time to give us a call.

Take a look our programs and consultancy services and let’s see how we can make magic happen within your organisation.