Employee Engagement: It's For Introverts Too ...

What does true employee engagement look like for your company? For many, it’s the smiling happy faces that grace every staff meeting, every corporate culture webpage, and every photo opportunity. It’s the employees who eagerly arrive at work, saying, “hey there” to their co-workers. It’s the employees who explain to new hires how great it is to work here. But what about those less-expressive employees who tend to be quiet and stay off the radar -- are they engaged too?

Creating authentic employee engagement.

Oftentimes, companies focus a great deal of time on highly engaged employees who tend to be extroverts by nature. They stand out and get noticed. However, in doing so, this leaves out another huge portion of the workforce that has just as much value. Introverted employees can be left behind. Even if they are expected to be engaged in the corporate culture system, they end up being forced to “go through the motions” of participating in corporate events, filling out surveys and more. From a standpoint of once being an introvert, it can be annoying when faced with the request to participate in efforts that just take one away from getting any work done. The prevalence for more open and collaborative workspaces can become productivity busters due to the amount of distractions and people that happen there. It’s not surprising that businesses are starting to realize that employees need “nap pods” and micro office spaces to actually get some real work done.

Engagement of employees may be something different than we imagined.

We know from the scientific evidence presented by Carl Jung going back to the 1920s that introverts account for somewhere between one-third and one-half of the adult population. Many brilliant minds and leaders have come out of introverted souls. Consider some of the self-professed introverted 'heroes' of more recent times: Bill Gates of Microsoft, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Elon Musk of Space-X. They might not have flourished in the extrovert-dominated industry in which they found their voice. Today, with all the technology that keeps us glued to our mobile devices, having fewer meaningful face-to-face conversations and social interactions is sadly becoming the norm. This encourages more people to embrace their introverted selves. So, with this in mind, how can we define employee engagement? Some years ago, I had the privilege of working for the inspirational Scott Dorsey, Co-Founder and former CEO of ExactTarget (that was purchased by Salesforce.com for $2.5 billion in 2013). He attributed much of this success on creating an environment and culture that phenomenal people would want to work for ... including introverts. The culture was built around core principles which encouraged all employees to find their place, act as entrepreneurs and achieve more. ‘Treating people well’ was number one on the list of company values. You can learn more from Scott on ExactTarget's philosophy and the major part that engaged and respected employees played in this remarkable story by watching this video (length 3 minutes).

How can organizations get introverts actively engaged in the corporate culture?

It’s important to create an authentic culture by engaging employees where they are currently. It’s unrealistic to expect people to change their personalities for the sake of appearances. First, use an always-on employee engagement solution that captures the daily experience of all your employees, where they happen to be and how they feel connected to the organizational culture. Secondly, give them a chance to share their ideas and voice concerns within a safe communication channel. Introverted employees may well have excellent ideas that otherwise may never see the light of day. Lastly, take the time to develop meaningful employee engagement questions that go deeper than the normal “do you like this company?” Dig deeper. Find out what they really want. Respond to them in the ways that they feel most comfortable. Do not assume just because an employee is naturally an introvert that they don't have leadership and social abilities.

Find out how always-on employee engagement surveys and anonymous feedback solutions can give a voice to all employees. Find out more by emailing info@thymometrics.com, calling +1 646 760 9323 (US) or +44 (0) 1223 750 251 (Europe) or visiting thymometrics.com.

Photo by al ghazali on Unsplash