Social Disengagement-the Four Enablers as Antidote?

Numerous independent studies concur that higher levels of engagement have significant impacts on not only an organization’s bottom line, but on individuals’ overall wellbeing. The UK’s Engage for Success movement promotes a deeper understanding and application of engagement as presented in the MacLeod Report.  The e4s model is based on Four Enablers that promote higher levels of employee engagement in the workplace. These enablers are excerpted below if for some reason you don’t want to access and review the full report linked above. Highly recommended: go to the source for this! Also, look around at the other resources here—the well-being report is killer—including a toolbox of application tips and tricks for each of the four enablers.

No need to dwell on it, but just for context: the US, for that matter the world, is fighting through some pretty ugly social issues. To me, one of the foundational causes of a good deal of these issues is social disengagement. Proposed: engagement theory does not stop in the workplace; the Four Enablers can also be leveraged to promote higher levels of social engagement.

EXCERPTS: the Four Enablers
I’ve taken some editorial liberty with the following, replacing work-related words with social. Therefore, “employees” are citizens, “work” is community etc. Please go to the source, the MacLeod Report, for the original thoughts.

LEADERSHIP provides a strong strategic narrative which has widespread ownership and commitment from community leaders at all levels and citizens. The narrative is a clearly expressed story about what the purpose of the community is (or of the organization), why it has the broad vision it has, and how an individual citizen contributes to that purpose. Citizens have a clear line of sight between their community role and the narrative, and understand where their actions fit in…A strong narrative that provides a clear, shared vision for the community or organisation is at the heart of social engagement. Citizens need to understand not only the purpose of the community in which they live but also how their individual actions contribute to that purpose.

ENGAGING LEADERS and OFFICIALS are at the heart of this social culture– they facilitate and empower rather than control or restrict their constituency; they treat the citizenry with appreciation and respect and show commitment to developing and increasing opportunities, and rewarding the involvement and efforts of those they represent…Firstly, engaging leaders and officials offer clarity for what is expected from individual members of the community, which involves some stretch, and much appreciation and feedback/coaching and training. The second key area is treating their constituency as individuals, with fairness and respect and with a concern for each citizen’s well-being. Thirdly, leaders and officials have a very important role in ensuring that community systems, services and opportunities for citizens to interact with them are designed efficiently and effectively.

An effective and empowered citizen VOICE – citizens’ views are sought out; they are listened to and they see that their opinions count and make a difference. Individuals speak out and challenge when appropriate. A strong sense of listening and of responsiveness permeates the community, enabled by effective communication…The ‘Sunday Times Top 100 Companies to Work for’ found that feeling listened to was the most important factor in determining how much respondents valued their organization, and the same holds true for communities and social groups. Being heard reinforces a sense of belonging and a belief that ones actions can have an impact.

INTEGRITY Behaviour throughout the community is consistent with stated values, leading to trust and a sense of integrity…Most communities have espoused values and all societies have behavioural norms. Where there is a gap between the two, the size of the gap is reflected in the degree of distrust within the community; if the gap is closed, high levels of trust usually result. If a citizen sees the stated values of a community or government being lived by leadership and peers, a sense of trust in the community and the government is more likely to be developed, and this constitutes a powerful enabler of social engagement.

What do you think? How do the Four Enablers come to life as real, actionable things that will enhance social engagement? Please reply by identifying an Enabler, and your thoughts on an actionable to-do. Just to salt the mine…

What is the level of interest and involvement of citizens if word was to leak out that an elected official was hosting a series of input-gathering brainstorming meetings open to the public? (YAWN) The town hall meeting is certainly nothing new. But accountability to act, with follow up and real results…now that is extremely rare to find!

What if the commitment was stated and then kept, that attendees would not only share their thoughts, but that the top-tier “keeper” items as clarified, refined and prioritized by the group would be published, assigned ownership, and results or status communicated by a certain date?

In Closing, Virtuous Circle(s)

Reference the e4s well-being and engagement report. Also, see Influence and the Greater Good.

Higher engagement triggers greater levels of contribution which, in turn, triggers even higher levels of engagement. And, the higher a person’s sense of well-being, the more productive and engaged they are. Contribution level also impacts a person’s well-being: if I’m delivering on my accountabilities I feel good about it. Last, work engagement drives individual engagement and reverse holds true too—individual engagement drives organizational engagement.

Add social engagement into the mix: the interrelationships are undeniable. Improve one, improve the others. Social well-being, cultural health, and economic sustainability are the prizes. Oh, almost forgot the WIIFM… this well-being / engagement interrelationship also means that people tend to live a lot longer, and are happier too.

That makes this at least worth thinking about, doesn’t it?


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