Monday, August 13, 2012

Has Employee Engagement Become Nothing More Than Cliche?

Is all the talk around employee engagement just fluff?

This HR Magazine editorial is hopefully a slap in the face to those employers who enter ‘best workplace’ contests or initiate workplace culture surveys for the wrong reasons. I always ask people why they do things – not just these things but any things. The primary driver for such contests and surveys should be to improve performance, productivity and profitability. The driver should not be about winning a trophy. By all means win trophies but they are means to an end not ends in themselves. As the editorial itself says, “…is there a risk that the purpose of engagement – ensuring colleagues apply themselves to their jobs, for a better overall performance – is being lost in the race for points?”

“…the real commercial benefit comes when actions are taken on the findings, driving broader business strategy.”

One interviewed HR Director commented, “”Perhaps it’s because I spent too much time analysing our Best Companies data and noticed all the questions are about how good people feel, with barely a nod to how conscientiously they apply themselves to their work.” And that is what employee engagement is, not that people feel happy or not. Or even whether they feel engaged or not. It is their observable behaviour of applying discretionary effort.

In the interests of consistency I’d also like to point out that I like this editorial because it agrees with me. I am nothing if not consistent.

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