What Engagement at Work Looks Like

Yesterday, @tbump and I were chatting about institutional fit and workplace engagement and we discussed the “Q12,” developed by the Gallup Organization. This list of 12 questions asks employees to take a 360 degree view of their work environment. A high score on the Q12 is indicative of their level of engagement.

As a hiring manager for my department I am often asked by candidates what it is like to work for our department. I do my best to answer the question honestly as it relates to departmental culture, mission & goals, and student trends. However, perhaps the answer lies in how our employees would answer the questions below.

Under each Q12 question I have created a question or two for you to consider. How can you increase engagement in your workplace over the next 6 months? During the next 2 weeks I will tweet out some of these questions with the hashtag #Q12 and encourage discussion about them. We would love to hear your thoughts!

12 Questions (Q12) of the Gallup Organization:

1. Do you know what is expected of you at work? When I speak with new professionals they sometimes mention that they were not given clear-cut expectations at the start of their job. More frequently I hear that expectations were initially given but never re-visited. How are you ensuring that all staff know what is expected of them throughout the year?

2. Do you have the materials and equipment you need to do your work right? This can be especially difficult in an economic downturn but even though Student Affairs professionals are experts at doing more with less, they still require essential resources to support their work. How are you checking to ensure that staff members have their basic needs met?

3. At work, do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day? This is a personal question that can depend on many factors. What does “your best” look like and how can your department support this?

4. In the last seven days, have you received recognition or praise for doing good work? Conversely, have you given praise? I believe this is one of those workplace practices that spreads as everyone becomes invested in the success of the team. Who have you praised this week?

5. Does your supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about you as a person? This is often felt but cannot be described. Who demonstrates care and concern for you and work?

6. Is there someone at work who encourages your development? This can be, but doesn’t have to be, your supervisor. How are you connecting with people at the institution to learn from and with others who can aid in your own development?

7. At work, do your opinions seem to count? Is this subjective? You bet. But we can all feel when our thoughts are being taken seriously or if they are being discarded. Even if you don’t support a co-worker’s idea/thought/statement, how can you show them that they have been heard?

8. Does the mission/purpose of your company make you feel your job is important? I currently am employed at a mission-driven institution so these principles are affirmed often in my workplace. In what ways do you encourage your employees to view their work through the lens of their university mission and vision?

9. Are your associates (fellow employees) committed to doing quality work? Has your department determined what a “satisfactory” and “exceptional” work product looks like? How do you build departmental commitment from day one?

10. Do you have a best friend at work? While it is not your job as an employer to ensure that everyone who works for you has friends at the university, consider what networking opportunities currently exist and share these with your staff. Are you aware of social opportunities that exist at your current institutions? Be sure to share with new staff members on a consistent basis.

11. In the last six months, has someone at work talked to you about your progress? Regular feedback is crucial—especially for new professionals. Other than your yearly performance appraisal, how often is feedback given?

12. In the last year, have you had opportunities at work to learn and grow? Does your department encourage participation above the departmental level? Are their opportunities to serve on a divisional committee, take a class, be on a search committee or develop a new initiative for the department? How are you checking in with each employee to ensure that they are feeling challenged in their work?

Because we know that high levels of engagement lead to greater workplace productivity, it is in our best interest to think about what tweaks we can employ in our current work to make sure all of the structures are in place for optimum engagement. Talk to current co-workers and get their perspective. The next time a candidate asks me about our work environment I will be better prepared to answer that question in terms of what our current employees reveal about the questions in the Q12.

Which of the Q12 questions will you commit to exploring in your own department?

Let me know!

For more information visit:
The Q12 items are protected by copyright of The Gallup Organization, 1992-2004.

About annmarieklotz

I write about all things education, personal & professional development and growth. Once is a question, twice is a discussion and three times is a blog post! Born and raised in Detroit Michigan but currently calling the Pacific Northwest home. I work at Oregon State University and belong to a fantastic community of higher ed professionals around the globe! Lover of theater and the arts. Live your best life!
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10 Responses to What Engagement at Work Looks Like

  1. Eric Stoller says:

    Love this post!!! It should be required reading for pretty much anyone and everyone who works in student affairs. Seriously. This needs to be presented at conferences. Submit this now please 😉

  2. If you don’t mind, I’m going to tweek and use this with my student staff. I know they are on the front lines with our students and, although we ask, they don’t always know how to communicate if they are getting what they need from us. You pretty much hit the nail on the head on how to do that. Thanks for the insight!

  3. Thanks Eric for your feedback! I hope to spark some conversattion about the Q12 over Twitter in the next couple of weeks so be on the lookout for it! While this isn’t super new content I think it is still relevant!

  4. Thanks for reading, Catherine! I would be interested to hear which areas your staff want to focus on–this is a great tool to use with them!

  5. Gallup does great work and you did a great job making that easy to digest and act upon!
    Question 3 always speaks to me. I now set up my weekly calendar with one day free of meetings where I am free to work on what I want to, and have complete control over my day. From experience I know that i work best and stay engaged when I have that day. Once I give that day up then I start lose productivity and engagement. it is one of my must-haves! Great post!

  6. Ah good stuff Ann. Thanks for sharing. Will be reusing this many times.

  7. Thanks Tom, feel free! That’s what we do–use, re-use and share 🙂 Hope it is helpful!

  8. Thanks Paul! I will be posting more info on the Q12 soon on Twitter–stay tuned!!

  9. I am definitely going to use this as a reference in an upcoming pro devo session I am doing. Thanks for writing and sharing this resource!

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