Employee engagement can be gauged in many ways, but it all revolves around effort. But is that accurate enough?

Effort itself can be measured in various ways. Effort of time, effort of creativity, effort in going the extra mile. One way to get a pulse on how engaged your employees are is to walk around the hallways at around 5:15 p.m. and see who’s still hanging around.

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Ignoring the clock is certainly one measure of engagement, but there are all kinds of other ways employees express their engagement when it comes to investing their time into their work. Maybe they are willing to come in early or take shorter lunches. Or maybe they volunteer for cross training in a related area of the department or for extra projects to expand their knowledge.

A significant sign of employee engagement is when an employee comes up with ideas or creative ways to enhance their jobs. Maybe a person’s job is to make widgets, but they spend extra time figuring out ways to improve the process of making their widgets. Engagement is about adding to the business; it’s about improving what can be improved, and frankly, it’s about caring.

It’s almost easier to measure the lack of engagement sometimes. Employees who sit and watch the clock starting 4:49 p.m. so they can bolt out the door or those who don’t make it to meetings consistently or maybe who do whatever they can to get out of training or project assignment (are visions of Office Space flying through your mind?) are all indications of a lack of engagement.

If you think you have engaged employees, but they exhibit some of these behaviors, then they are probably not quite as engaged as you think they are. They might be satisfied in their jobs, but engagement is whole other level of care and dedication that is observable and that feels and looks like investment…and actually is.