As a full-time student at Brigham Young University and a part-time employee at A Plus Benefits, I can honestly say I never thought much about employee engagement. For the first several month of my job I’d come to work before or after my classes and do the exact same tasks every day (all while trying to stay awake), go home and do homework and then repeat the process the next day. I felt disengaged and like many of my friends at their jobs, the days seemed to drag on. I’d even catch myself some days, counting down the hours until the day was over.
That all changed this summer when I began a new project focused on employee engagement. My generation is particularly interested in finding meaning in their careers. We want to feel that we are making a difference through the work that we do and also have a personal connection to that work. My assignment was to conduct research and come up with ways that employee engagement can be better implemented in businesses today. I met with my task manager once a week to report what I learned, share my ideas and discuss what I can do in the next week to further the project. As simple as this project seems, it changed my whole outlook on work.
Part of the reason for the change in my perspective can be attributed to the fact that I’ve been studying engagement and see ways that I can take responsibility for my own engagement, but I also think that having a new project to work on that encouraged free-thinking made the greatest difference. Now, I look forward to coming into the office every day. My work days go by much faster and rather than counting down to the end of the day, I actually don’t feel like I have enough time in the day. Because I am able to see the progress I’m making, at the end of the day I feel like I’ve really contributed to the company. I have found myself enjoying not only the work on the project, but also my other job duties as well. I’ve noticed a difference in the way I view my daily tasks. They no longer seem tedious because I now understand how they impact the business as a whole. I know that I am more productive and try harder than I ever have before because of my new perspective. I now understand that a job can (and should) be more than a set of routine tasks done every day. I have enjoyed having variety in my work. I’m motivated to reach a deadline and do a good job because I will be reporting back to my supervisor at the end of each week. That accountability pushes me to be better. I understand the vision of my company and how the work I am doing contributes to it.
These are all things that companies can focus on with their own employees. All employers should want their employees to feel engaged because it increases productivity and even quality of the work being done. It also makes the workplace more pleasant for everyone. I’ve experienced first-hand how being given a new project can invigorate an employee, giving them a chance to explore what their job can mean to them.
Heather Bartholomew is a member of the Accounting team at A Plus Benefits, Inc.