Election Day! The Mother of all Engagement Surveys

Today is the only day that I love standing in line. I thrive on the energy and excitement of Election Day.

Early voting holds absolutely no appeal to me. I want to be part of this presidential Election Day that only happens every four years. Between studying every poll, reading too many blogs and constantly checking twitter for the latest political info – I’m engaged.

Engaged people are willing to do things they don’t like to do (like standing in line). They are willing because they buy into their role, an outcome they want or how they will feel in the end.

Julie’s husband, Jay, just had major surgery and wasn’t supposed to even leave the house. Yet, he insisted that she load him in the back seat of the car so he could go vote. After lying down to get there, he gingerly stepped into the voting booth and made sure he cast his vote during early voting. Jay is clearly engaged.

Engagement is personal

You don’t have to go far to learn that voter engagement isn’t the same for everyone. In this election, voters are willing to stand in line for many reasons, such as:

–          They want the economy to improve

–          They care about women’s rights

–          They want to lower taxes

–          They want to protect the environment

–          They  believe in a candidate

–          They want to exercise their right as a citizen

–          They have concerns about immigration

–          They just don’t like the other candidate

You get the point. We are each there waiting in line to vote for different reasons.

And, many voters are committed in spite of the odds. Take the Republican in New York – who may not even have electricity yet – who makes time to vote even though she knows it won’t change the electoral picture for her state. Or, the Democrat in Oklahoma who takes off work to vote knowing his presidential vote probably won’t affect the outcome for his state either. But, they do it anyway. They are engaged.

Elections and Creating Engagement

Election Day is pretty interesting for those of us who spend our time trying to improve engagement and make organizations better. It reminds us that engagement is a multi-faceted topic and will never be one size fits all. It’s because organizations are made up of individuals.

The complex American electorate teaches us some wise lessons:

  •  Everyone is different, so provide choice whenever you can – on everything from building a career to how to best deliver work.
  • Motivation comes from belief in people, issues or just to prevent something from happening. When we are motivated, we will endure some discomfort to contribute.
  • Commitment and engagement are based on who we are and what we believe. Those closest to us are in the best position to know what matters most. This is why the belief that ‘someone cares about my career’ is one of the most significant factors in retention and commitment to an organization.

Engagement is Personal.

Engagement plans must recognize differences and diversity and build on it as strength, not a limitation.  It may be providing choice on how to create a career that suits them, getting more people involved in changing how work is done, or making sure the manager knows how to motivate and lead. Engagement is powered by motivation and appealing to causes we care about. It’s personal – not a program or a survey.

These are the same reasons why we voters are willing to stand in lines even when we aren’t sure if our vote will change the outcome.  Or, we keep working for a cause whose time hasn’t yet come. Because at the end of the day, it matters to us.

No matter what your motivation, hopes or concerns – remember to vote….even if the line is long.

Patti Johnson is the CEO of PeopleResults. She can be followed on twitter @pattibjohnson or her company @people_results.