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The thing about employee engagement is there’s very little engagement happening

3 min read

The thing about employee engagement is there’s very little engagement happening

Brian Solis on what’s wrong with employee engagement (maybe we’re not focusing on the right things). And we’re also launching a survey.

Gallup’s stunning stats on employee engagement and its impact on the bottom line have become all-too familiar. But we are not making much progress on what would seem to be a critical issue. How can a business possibly hope to succeed if only 13% of employees care?

Maybe we’re not trying hard enough or focusing on the right things…

In 2015, employee engagement is still one of the most important and also misunderstood pillars in the state and future of work.

So what is employee engagement exactly?

Here’s a standard definition I found over at Engage for Success:
Employee engagement is a workplace approach designed to ensure that employees are committed to their organization’s goals and values, motivated to contribute to organizational success, and are able at the same time to enhance their own sense of well-being.

Inspiring? No. Common? Yes.

No offense to those who wrote it, but it reads like something composed by committee or machine or both. Perhaps it’s the order of the words or the words themselves that lead me to this conclusion. Either way, it reveals an opportunity where we can start to make an impact…a human impact. According to the definition, employee engagement…

  • Is a workplace approach
  • Ensures employees are committed to organization’s goals and values
  • Motivates employees to contribute to organizational success
  • Is able, at the same time, to enhance their [individual employees] own sense of well-being

When you break it down this way, we start get a glimpse of the underlying reasons why employee engagement struggles to gain momentum. It’s all about the organization and not about people!

Employee engagement, or the lack thereof, is part of something bigger, or at least it should be. What we’re really talking about is culture and whether or not culture is employee-centric and employee empowered.

In his new book, Under the Hood; Fire Up and Fine-Tune Your Employee Culture, author Stan Slap defines culture this way…

A culture is your employees’ shared beliefs about the rules of survival and emotional prosperity.

Whenever people share the same basic living conditions, he points out, they band together to share beliefs about how best to survive. They’re together for anywhere between 8-to-12 hours a day for at least five days a week every week.

It makes sense. At the same time, people want to feel like they’re contributing to something that’s collectively important. They want to feel that their work, and who they are, are valued by management. In many ways, the workplace is a community powered by the people who comprise it. And, thriving communities focus on common ideals while nurturing the common aspirations and interests of its constituents. With leadership focused vision, goals and what and whom it takes to get there, communities can grow stronger, wiser, more resilient and engaged.

I once defined community this way…
Community is much more than belonging to something; it’s about doing something together that makes belonging matter.

The workplace is a community. Culture is defined by its people. Vision is offered as direction and shared aspirations form kinship. That’s why employee engagement starts with leadership and not management. It’s how leaders will shape our workspace, why we do what we do, what it all means, and the role each of us play and the value it is we bring today and tomorrow.

Take the Survey; Share the Survey

If we’re to truly engage employees, we must start by seeing them as the people who keep businesses in business. As they say, happy employees equal happy customers.

This is where you come in.

We are introducing a short but poignant survey that helps measure how leaders view employee engagement and where we can make strides in improving employee cultures now and in the future of work.

Please take the survey here (it’ll be fast) and also, please share it across your social graphs. We’ll publish the results as well as share what to do to make employees and employee engagement matter more than ever before.

Image courtesy of Nic McPhee via a CC BY-SA 2.0 license.

Brian Solis

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