This blog post from Liz Ryan reckons employee engagement is a racket for HR consultants to lever their way into organisations’ budgets preaching the faux theory de jour:
“Every decade or so, a bright new theory about managing people gets HR chiefs all excited… What is Employee Engagement? It’s a made-up construct that seeks to measure how well our employees like us. We used to talk about employee morale…”
Given how she defines employee engagement, I agree a bit with her. Quite a bit. If it is just another phrase for employe morale, I’ve blogged repeatedly how that doesn’t have that much to do by itself directly with productivity and profitability or even being a decent place to work. What people think they feel or say they think they feel on a survey is probably not worth the time to collect.
However, that’s not the true definition of employee engagement as measured by directly observable discretionary behaviour by employees. They don’t have to be happy or be able to recite the company’s mission from memory. Those two things may or may not contribute to a state of mind where the employee applies discretionary effort. That’s employee engagement – doing more than you have to, more than you’re told to – seeking improved mastery, autonomy and a sense of purpose, driven by heightened self awareness and a desire to influence others.
By that true (truer?) definition, I would not agree with Liz. Not about employee engagement anyways. I probably would about the whole general ‘racket for HR consultants to lever their way into organisations’ budgets preaching the faux theory de jour’ thing. That happens all the time and for $3500 a day, I’ll tell you all about it. Might even draft up a survey…