3 Values for Actively Engaging Employees

Are you demonstrating respect, trust and vulnerability?


According to a Gallup poll, half of all employees are disengaged at work. That means they are not enthusiastic about their job and are not committed to reaching the organization’s goals. Jae Washington, commentator, educator and community connector, encourages employee engagement by promoting a culture of three key qualities: respect, trust and vulnerability. In her candid interview, Jae also speaks to the need to dismantle the “caste system” and treat all roles—upper management, middle management, support staff, vendors—with equal value and engagement.

Jae suggests that we continually ask ourselves: Am I showing respect toward other people? Have I established trust and am I consistently trustworthy? Am I willing to be vulnerable and allow others to feel comfortable doing the same? “I think it's important in any employee engagement situation that you not only have this expectation of others, but to [also] live by those three tenets,” says Jae.

If you are battling employee disengagement, watch this video as Jae shares real-world insights. 

In my organization that I presently work for, it is a huge challenge to engage employees because there appears to be this sort of cast system. And I think it's important to clear that cast system.

I believe several organizations may have that where there is upper management, middle management, and then support staff. And quite often at least in my experience specifically in the job that I'm presently in, there appears to be preferential treatment, as well as an emphasis on value from the upper management position.

When you get to the middle there are some concessions made. And by the time you reach the supportive or admin staff there's very little perceived value whether it be from policies and processes, to conversation people engaging. And so I think it's important always within an organization that you provide some sort of leveled playing field, as it pertains to engagement.

I think the ways that you do that are three principles that I tend to take with me. Respect, trust, and a little bit of vulnerability. I think it's important first of all, this level of respect. And I think often people equate respect to reverence maybe.

But respect just allows us at the end of the day to respectfully agree to disagree, that idea that you can have your perception. I can have my perception and whether we agree, that because I value you that I will take heed.

But one of the most important things that I found within my community involvement is that people are really interested in being heard. And whether that end result is again that you agree with them, or side with them, or choose the path that they've offered, there is merit in being listened to. And so active listening is very important.

Respect leads to trust. Trust obviously is a paramount principle when it comes to requiring someone to take a leap of faith. Often in an organization where there is change or transition, you are requiring employees to take that leap of faith, that the leadership will not lead you astray. And so if you offer this idea of establishing trust it makes it easier for me to follow you. Through those two principles, I believe you create the solidifying of the relationship, which then allows the third principle, vulnerability.

This willingness to "expose" oneself in a manner that is quite scary for many. This idea of sharing one's true beliefs, or truths with individuals that again although you don't have to agree, you at least understand that it's coming from a place of again vulnerability. A place where you are allowing yourself to speak your truth. I think it's important that in any given employee engagement situation, that you not only have this expectation of others to live by those three tenets, but that you do.

Ask yourself, are you showing respect towards the other person or persons? Have you established trust and are you trustworthy? And then finally before you can ask vulnerability, often you have to show it. And so being willing to step into the space of vulnerability allows others hopefully to feel comfortable to do the same.

Jae Washington

Jae Washington is a connector who understands the importance of shared stories and how they contribute to the bottom line. Adept in many disciplines, she is committed to the team as well as the task at hand. Jae seeks opportunities t...

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