The Atlas

The 12 elements to help you define what you need from work

One of the many areas of insight that has emerged from Gallup's work on culture and organizational dynamics is what they call the 12 Elements of Employee Engagement. In my recurring question, What do you need from work? I find this list of 12 questions extremely useful.

What they have found is that, when looking at employees across the engagement spectrum, there were 12 basic things that recurred as essential criteria for employees to feel engaged at work.

  1. I know what is expected of me at work.
  2. I have the materials and equipment to do my work right.
  3. At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.
  4. In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.
  5. My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person.
  6. There is someone at work who encourages my development.
  7. At work, my opinions seem to count.
  8. The mission/purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important.
  9. My associates (fellow employees) are committed to doing quality work.
  10. I have a best friend at work.
  11. In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress.
  12. In the last year, I have had opportunities to learn and grow.

The questions are actually ordered very specifically, because (not unlike Maslow's Hierarchy), they build upon each other -- in other words, you must satisfy the ones at the beginning, before you can successfully move on.

  • Our most basic needs - Questions 1-2
  • Our individual needs - Questions 3-6
  • Our needs within a team - Questions 7-10
  • Our need to grow - Questions 11-12

These questions provide an enormously practical platform for both managers and employees, when it comes to determining:

I work with so many people who are unsatisfied in their jobs. Some of them are holding on, either out of fear or hope that things will change (though, they can rarely articulate precisely WHAT they hope will change). Other people are frustrated that their staff is underperforming because they are disengaged and they aren't entirely sure what to do about it. Others are self-employed and believe that culture is important, but aren't exactly how to start being deliberate about what they are building.

No matter where you fall, I think Gallup's list of questions -- starting in order -- is a great place to begin. Not all jobs or employees are salvageable. But plenty are. And if both employee and manager are committed to making an environment one that cultivates great engagement, then these questions are very helpful framework to start figuring out what can and should change, versus what can't or shouldn't.

And once you get clear on THAT, then staying or going becomes a much, much easier decision to make.

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