By Calli Tapler
When levels of employee engagement are stagnant, great employees can seem few and far between. Employee engagement may be defined in many ways, but simply stated, it is the level of connection an employee feels to his or her company, thereby impacting their behavior and performance.
While employee engagement has remained stable over the past several years, Gallup found that only 28 percent of U.S. employees are engaged. Employee engagement is a critical driver of a company's success and when engagement is high, talent, customer loyalty, and performance follows. Research shows employees are more likely to stay engaged if they work with other great employees.
It follows that identifying and keeping great employees is crucial, so how do you identify the elusive "It" factor? Turns out, the answer is simpler than you think.
While the "It" factor for any one organization or job may vary, the anchors do not:
1. High levels of engagement: Great employees are typically those that feel high levels of engagement within the organization. Even the most technically skilled employees -- those you would think have "It"-- can flunk in this category.
I once worked with the most amazing administrative assistant. She was extremely efficient, great with details, and was often three steps ahead of her boss. Her skills were incredible. After working for months on a week-long employee celebration ensuring every detail was covered to perfection, her boss failed to thank her publicly (or privately) for her hard work and dedication. She felt undervalued, overworked, and under appreciated. Over the next several months, I watched her level of engagement drop as well as her performance.
2. Personal characteristics aligned with company culture/values: Accountable, loyal, innovative, adaptable, positive attitude – the list of qualities any one employer values goes on and on. Chances are the qualities have a high degree of similarity among organizations, but what give you the "It" factor at one organization may vary at another.
Take for instance the organization rooted in tradition, valuing age and tenure more than fresh ideas, and attached to the notion of paying one's dues. I once worked for a company like this. Being a brand new employee -- as well as being young -- was no easy feat. About a year into the job, I remember sitting in an executive level meeting when one of my new coworkers piped in with her opinion on how to handle the topic at hand. The silence was palpable and her "outburst" was blatantly ignored as though she never said a word. A brand new employee with forward-thinking ideas is not likely to stand out as the "It" employee at this firm.
3. Identifiable at all levels: Great employees aren't limited to leadership roles or those positions at the top. "It" employees are found in the front lines doing hard labor as much as they are found in the C-Suite with executive titles. Great employees know the value they bring to the table, and work to give their best to their employers no matter what their role.
How do you identify an "it" employee at your organization?
Calli Tapler is a director at TruYuu, an online service that helps people present themselves as more than just a resume to employers. You can connect with Calli and the TruYuu team on Facebook and Twitter.