We are all familiar with the circadian rhythm, that biological, twenty-four hour clock that regulates our important internal processes. But what happens when we get off our rhythm? For example, whenever you travel to a new time zone, your body receives different light and temperature cues that it uses to regulate this clock and tries to adapt to these new environmental conditions.
In the meantime, you’re sleepy at different times and can’t eat properly. When you disturb your body’s circadian rhythm (like the effects of jet lag), your body is less efficient. Your immune system suffers, your sleep schedule is thrown off, you’re hungry at all the wrong times, and overall, you don’t feel your best.
Just like our bodies, engagement has a rhythm. Engagement needs to be maintained in the community; otherwise, it cannot be sustained and run optimally. Engagement is a critical component to innovation, and so what can companies and managers do to establish an engagement rhythm?
Engagement Needs Cues
Just like how your body takes light cues to determine when to sleep and eat, engagement takes cues. These cues come in the form of innovation and progress with your employees. Cues can be simple reminders and communications that keep the momentum going.
Some examples of these cues include responding to ideas, newsletters, updating on the status of ideas that are being implemented, and celebrating successes. At each cue, your engagement levels will “wake up” and ignite the community. And note that everyone can benefit from these cues, not just the people receiving the recognition or the team responsible for the latest innovation. Just like waking up starts turns on other biological systems like feeling hungry, the innovation cues will help to rev up other key functions in the innovation process like idea generation. These cues help to establish the rhythm for engagement, and feed back into further innovation.
A practical way to regulate cues is to use an idea management system or software. Just as it is easier to wake up in the summer when the sun is up earlier, your engagements efforts will be more effective with a system that ensures automated and regular cues are there to wake up employees. Employees will use these cues to keep on track, and idea generation and discussions may become a part of their daily rhythm as well, feeding into a system of engagement and innovation.
Engagement Can Be Developed
If you don’t have a regular process to give these important cues, don’t worry. Engagement can be developed, just like your sleep schedule. The most important aspect is to start creating these cues and ensuring that they occur regularly. For example:
- Start sending out a weekly newsletter. Some things you could include in the newsletter could be top ideas, updates on current ideas or employee idea of the month. The key to a successful newsletter is to give them a reason to open the newsletter by featuring content that they are interested in.
- Send emails on the status of ideas in progress. Progress is contagious. Sending email notifications about ideas employees care about or will directly impact will both inform them (improve transparency) and engage them. Be aware that too many e-mails can be frustrating, I recommend only sending them out when key progress has been made on ideas.
- Consider a monthly employee idea recognition lunch. Recognition and incentives are great ways to re-engage and inspire a large community.
- Keep track of and celebrate successes as they happen (as well as lessons learned!). Who doesn’t love a celebration? Big or small, the successful implementation of an idea should warrant congratulations and sharing of key lessons learned.
Give your employees something to look forward to, and you’ll find engagement levels in your organization rise.
Employees need consistent cues to maintain the engagement levels in the organization. If those cues are in place, you will be strengthening and reinforcing an engaged culture, with a healthy rhythm. Imagine what your company would accomplish and how it would grow with a healthy engagement rhythm.