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    Olesya Luraschi.

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Engagement at Work: Learning to Treat People as People, Not Objects

Have you ever had the experience of being so immersed in your work that it ceases to feel like work?

That is what being fully engaged feels like.

The good news is that being engaged is a normal human experience; it is not some elusive characteristic.

Regrettably, many businesses have the concept of engagement backward. They believe that engagement must be developed, but if engagement comes naturally to us, then the issue is somewhere else.

How we gauge engagement is one problem. We frequently confuse "buy-in" culture with engagement in the workplace.

For instance, an HR representative may track employee engagement using the R-A-G system. The R-A-G scale, which stood for "red, amber, and green," determines how closely a worker's views matched those of management. In essence, you were engaged if you agreed with the higher-ups.

Engagement, however, is not the same as managerial approval. It involves interacting with people as complicated beings.

The difference between an I-It relationship and an I-Thou relationship is at the core of philosopher Martin Buber's radical proposal for engaging with others.

In an I-It relationship, we view others as tools to achieve our goals. Team members are treated like objects, deprived of the authority of their own thoughts and experiences when they use a RAG system.

We must embrace an I-Thou relationship if we want to properly interact with people. To go beyond established roles, be more open, and get an understanding of others, we must learn how to "encounter" individuals.

This cannot be crammed into a scheduled activity that lasts fifteen minutes. Space, presence, and a desire to connect are requirements.

How do you find the time then?

One strategy is to consciously reduce the number of meetings you attend and add more time to your calendar so you can "run into" coworkers and stop for a casual, open conversation.

You may be surprised by the outcomes. Many top leaders who have utilized this strategy have helped their organizations reach new heights while raising employee engagement and corporate morale by substantially cutting back on formal meetings and setting aside time and space to "encounter" people.

It can be difficult to create the space for true human connection, but there is no substitute.