Friday 15 August 2014

Exploding the employee engagement myth

According to a lot of articles and papers I read employee engagement is the number one challenge keeping leaders awake at night.

What is employee engagement?

“William Kahn provided the first formal definition of employee engagement as "the harnessing of organisation members' selves to their work roles; in engagement, people employ and express themselves physically, cognitively, and emotionally during role performances." Kahn (1990).

In 1993, Schmidt et al. proposed a bridge between the pre-existing concept of 'job satisfaction' and employee engagement with the definition: "an employee's involvement with, commitment to, and satisfaction with work. Employee engagement is a part of employee retention." This definition integrates the classic constructs of job satisfaction (Smith et al., 1969), and organizational commitment (Meyer & Allen, 1991).”

I don’t believe any of the above is even close to the mark.

For me employee engagement is an outcome of treating people as they expect to be treated, (Tony Alessandra calls this The Platinum Rule) and helping them to achieve what’s important to them. Engaged people reciprocate by helping your business achieve what’s important to you. 

Three actions you can begin today to increase employee engagement

1) Ask your people for “feedforward” about how you could treat them better.

2) As a part of every day work have conversations with your people about what’s important to them, what’s worth celebrating in their work, and what could be better. 

3) As a collaboration with your employees take immediate and productive action on what you discover. Increased employee engagement will be an outcome.

Trillions of dollars has been spent on employee engagement initiatives with the end result being that employee engagement is no better than when we first started measuring it!

Could it be that we have been measuring the wrong things?

You may need to invest money in taking the suggested actions above. Invest your heart and your energy first, then your money will be well spent. 

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

“In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.”
Yogi Berra

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