I’ve never particularly liked defining engagement in terms of personal happiness or filling a gap in someone’s soul. Sometimes being in an engaging work environment helps fulfill those needs. But what engagement really means to me as a business person is, are individuals – including myself – engaged with the activities and behaviors that drive business results? As a manager, I can’t fulfill someone’s life, or make them happy. I can’t do it as a friend, daughter, or spouse either – that’s just the way human beings work. But as a manager, I can help align actions and priorities. And when people feel that their actions and priorities are valued by those around them, that they are part of working towards a common goal, lo and behold you plant the seeds of engagement. 

 

So what does this mean for work environments like retail, where someone may or may not spend their whole career with you, but when they are on the clock, they directly impact your customer experience and revenue generation? I’m taking part in a webinar next week exploring these issues, but in preparation got me thinking about how to translate this type of engagement definition into the retail space. One concept that may translate is the idea of “just-in-time engagement”.

 

Make no mistake; just-in-time engagement is not about only engaging people when they are right in front of you. Just like the concept of just-in-time inventory, in order to have the right product show up at the right time, you need to build strong relationships and share both information and reward in order to keep the entire process running smoothly. Just-in-time engagement is about rethinking what engagement is in order to ensure that your employees show up on time, for the right shift, work hard and treat customers well while they’re there, and feel enough loyalty to keep coming back the next day. And it’s about finding the right mix of flexibility, information and opportunity to make this a reality.

 

If you are interested in learning more, click here to register and join me on March 24 at 2 PM Eastern to hear about Six Ways to Improve Employee Engagement, and critical strategies for utilizing your HR technology to deliver on the promise of just-in-time engagement.