There’s a strong view amongst some people I talk to that Employee Engagement as a concept has become out-dated, distorted or even discredited. “Latest fad” etc.
It’s a label that seems to be attached to so many different types of initiative – and arouses strong feelings. Some see it as pushing for “something for nothing” in terms of ‘releasing discretionary effort’ whereas others see it as a valid aim – ‘motivating employees to operate at their best’.
There certainly are too many tools and products (just search on Google – some of them actually look a bit dubious) but it must remain a valid aim to create positive workplaces & cultures where people want to, for example, deliver excellent customer service.
So maybe we can agree on “working to create an engaging employee experience” or something like that as an objective?
If so, then how do we do this? It isn’t all about the metrics. It isn’t an internal comms campaign. It isn’t posters in the loo.
Maybe we can think in OD terms and look to Messrs Burke and Litwin for some help. Usually not a bad idea in my experience.
It’s all about pulling the right levers in your particular workplace and that might be a very different programme to the company next door.
So in Company A it may be that the changes you should make to drive a positive outcome are IT/system/policy related or require structural change or need to take into consideration external factors.
Over in Company B it may be all about the culture, management ability & style and job design.
Meanwhile in Company C it’s leadership, leadership and leadership.
What is right for your business? Maybe it’s all of those – and this brings me onto my favourite approach. Treat “engaging” as a theme to run through everything you do. Everything. Discuss it with your teams – what would it mean if we wanted our structure to be more positive and engaging. Our policies. Our ways of working. How we communicate. And so on.
I talked in my last blog about the risk of creating absolutes out of single incidents or limited trends. Well let’s not write off everything to do with employee engagement just because some of it is discredited. Working to create a positive culture where people choose to join, stay, develop and perform is part & parcel of any HRD or CEO agenda.