The Most Engaged Employees Are Working Under The Radar

group of coworkers in a meeting looking at a computer screen

Harvard Business Review recently published an article called The Power of Hidden Teams by team experts, Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall. The article provides an introspective look into the power of teams and employee engagement—diving deep into the idea that the majority of an organization’s teams won’t be mapped out on HR’s traditional “org chart.”

Instead, there are “hidden teams” that operate every day within companies where people actually feel more engaged and more productive. These teams are better connected through a variety of tools like Slack, Jira, and other productivity/connection software and consist of people with different strengths, who then come together to solve problems by lending these strengths to the team as a whole.

When employees are team members, their level of engagement nearly doubles from 8% to 17%.

According to the article, engagement is defined as having “a clear sense of purpose, a commonly held notion of what’s valuable or important, feelings of psychological safety, and confidence about the future.”

The 2019 ADP Research Institute Study on people and performance revealed that only about 16% of employees are fully engaged at work, while about 84% are just going through the motions.

How do companies boost this number? By trusting in their team leaders. “Team members who strongly agree that they trust their team leader are eight times as likely to be fully engaged as those who don’t.”

That’s huge. To help build trust, the biggest thing team leaders can do is to schedule time with each of their team members for a weekly conversation, which, according to the article, results in “increases in engagement as a function of the frequency of those check-ins.”

During these check-ins, team leaders should ask the team member what their priorities are this week and how they can help. This makes the team member feel seen, heard, and cared for, which in turn builds trust.

Rather than making changes from the top down, the article suggests that organizations focus on the team unit as the “fulcrum of work” and trash the old fashioned leadership competencies, instead building up those who are actually interested in leading.

Furthermore, companies should consider the fact that “gig work” is on the rise. Full-time employees might take on a “gig” job or a side job which often consists of something they enjoy doing and as a sweet bonus, they earn money doing it.

If companies could think about gig work within teams and assign team members work they enjoy doing rather than putting them on a full-time project, it also be a key to increasing productivity and engagement even more in the long run.

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