What is Team Engagement?

Noelle Smit
March 31, 2022

What is team engagement, why do people love it, and when to start investing in it? Read what our Co-Founder and CEO, Noelle Smit, has to say about team engagement.

Office workers enjoying pizza and laughing

You are no doubt very familiar with the term employee engagement. Whether you are in a HR or leadership role or not, you have probably had to participate in employee engagement surveys, and possibly programs that have rolled out as a result of these surveys.

Why employee engagement surveys don’t work

Well, the sad news is that employee engagement surveys don’t work. Ok, that’s probably a bit harsh, they serve a purpose, but they don’t solve the employee engagement problem.

There is a significant gap between what the organisation measures through an employee engagement survey, and what actually impacts people’s experience at work as team members.

It's not that employee engagement surveys are irrelevant, they aren’t. But they address company wide issues like the office environment, equipment to do the job and management systems. They measure if leaders provide individuals with enough feedback and recognition, as well as their opinions of the organisations and leadership. And this is all important.

Here is the big 'BUT': employee engagement surveys entirely miss some of the most fundamental aspects of the employee experience. What they miss is the team environment and how effective it is.

Most people prefer to work in an engaged team

I ran a survey on LinkedIn where I asked people if they would prefer to:

  1. Work for a great company in a bad team
  1. Work for a bad company in a great team

We got these results:

Great team at a bad company 82% | Bad team at a great company 18%
View LinkedIn Poll

Most people would prefer to work for a bad company, but in a great team.

In reality you can work for a great company with an amazing employee benefit program, an amazing professional development program and best practice management framework. But if

  • The project you are working on has poor communication or
  • There are workflows that are frustrating, not only to you but the customer, or
  • Your team members never talk to you about anything other than work

You are going to have a very frustrating experience as an employee. All these things combined will wear you down until you are so tired you leave or remain as a disengaged employee.

It’s time to invest in team engagement

It is time for the 'team' to take its place in centre stage in the employee experience conversation. The truth is, people prefer to work in an amazing team at a terrible company, than in a terrible team at a brilliant company. That is why improving the team environment and creating highly engaged teams is so critical.

That’s what we call Team Engagement.

What is team engagement

TEAM ENGAGEMENT is when a team combine their efforts to cohesively and positively support each other to perform and achieve a common goal, in an environment that enables equal participation and idea sharing, where people feel motivated to give their best.

When a team is engaged, it enhances the sense of trust and teamwork. It develops an emotional commitment to each other's wellbeing and performance, which becomes a driving force to achieve strategic goals.

And if you can achieve high team engagement, you know the employees are engaged because you can’t have disengaged employees in a highly engaged team.

We know this because a disengaged team is the opposite of the above. Let's write the above putting in the opposite meanings.

What is team disengagement

TEAM DISENGAGEMENT is when a team works as individuals, negatively impacting each other’s ability to achieve common goals. Where the focus is on individual achievement, where participation is not equal, ideas are not shared or ignored, where people are demotivated and have no desire to give their best.

When a team is disengaged there is little trust or teamwork. Nobody in concerned with others wellbeing or performance, and achieving strategic goals is irrelevant and unachievable.

It sounds horrible, toxic! I don't think any individual could remain an engaged employee in that environment. No matter what programs HR run, unless that team culture is fixed, employees will remain disengaged.

It’s time to improve the way teams work together

Everyone's priority should be to improve the way teams work together. If a team is engaged and high performing, they can adapt to any challenge thrown their way. They don't need leadership or HR to solve things from the top, they work together and raise problems as they arise in their high trust environment and iterate on solutions until they find one that works. They understand the strategic goals of the business and support each other to achieve them.

One team working together like this could achieve great things. But imagine 10 teams, or 100 or an entire organisation filled with highly engaged teams. That is an unstoppable organisation that everyone wants to be a part of.

And we at Teamgage believe this is possible, and we are on a mission to make it happen.

Team Engagement Live

We’re on a mission to help leaders learn from each other, share experiences, and get their teams working better together.

That's why every fortnight, I have a chat with a leader that successfully took their team to the next level. We'll talk about team engagement, team performance, communication, organisational culture, trust, leadership skills and so much more!

This series of 20-minute interviews airs fortnightly on Tuesdays at 1pm (AEDT) via Zoom. Short and sweet - you can tune in while you have lunch!

There's nothing better than learning from your peers - so come and join us! Let's get your teams working better together.

Woman smiling in an office

Let's do this.

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