Introducing the ‘employee engagement mindset’

Emma Bridger

10 Mar 2023
Employee Experience
Employee Engagement
A study by Leadership IQ has revealed five traits required for ‘self-engagement’. In their study of over 11,000 employees, they gathered insight on what they termed ‘Self-Engagement’ i.e. an employee’s level of optimism, resilience, proactivity, assertiveness, and ambition.

Their model of self-engagement involves what they call ‘18 Outlooks’, and in summary reflects the extent to which employees have personal control over their engagement at work. The questions were designed to understand the role that employees themselves play in their engagement at work and included items such as:

  • I expect that more good things will happen to me than bad things
  • The tough times I’ve had in my career have helped me to grow and improve
  • I find something interesting in every task/project I do.

Employee engagement mindset

You can think if the bullet points above as the ‘employee engagement mindset’ and it’s a hugely important and often ignored part of the engagement mix.

It’s no surprise that their findings demonstrated that our mindset at work plays a significant role in the way we experience work and subsequent levels of engagement. What was interesting though, was that the research found that often self-engagement is more critical than other engagement enablers such as the role of the line manager.

The research found the following elements all played a significant role in explaining engagement at work:

1. Optimism

The study found that having an optimistic outlook explains 30% of an employee’s inspiration at work. This finding makes sense when viewed through the lens of positive psychology because we know that an optimistic mindset can protect against a downward spiral, as well as reduce levels of anxiety.

2. Having an Internal Locus of Control

This is when an employee believes that they control their successes and failures, and that it is not down to luck, but hard work. The study found an internal locus of control explained 26% of an employee’s inspiration at work. Again, this result is not actually that surprising: studies have demonstrated this time and again and that people with a high internal locus of control experience more career success, better health, less anxiety and lower stress.

3. Resilience

Being resilient e.g. coping well when things get tough, explained 25% of an employee’s inspiration at work. We know that resilience is a key skill for overall wellbeing so it makes sense that it would play a role here. Being resilient means being able to bounce-back from setbacks, and cope when things don’t go the way you had hoped.

4. Assertiveness

High assertiveness was found to explain 23% of a worker’s employee engagement. Being high in assertiveness means being able communicate effectively, and clearly express needs, views, and boundaries. Research has found that assertiveness is often correlated with higher levels of self-esteem, and healthy assertiveness skills which can even reduce conflicts and aggressiveness in the workplace.

5. Meaning in your job

Finding something interesting in the work you do, explains 24% of an employee’s inspiration at work. People who find meaning in their work are more inspired and more likely to stay with their employer, more likely to give their best effort at work, and more likely to recommend their employer to others.
The elements outlined here can all be developed and taught, they are not fixed. We believe that developing this type of mindset presents a significant opportunity to improve employee engagement. Focusing on developing the right mindset is absolutely not about the organisation abdicating responsibility for engagement, in fact quite the opposite. It’s about organisations and practitioners considering how they can support employees to develop these traits which will benefit all.

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