Many companies gather employee feedback at this time of year wishing for an engagement score that is an improvement over the previous results. I find that people often confuse employee satisfaction with employee engagement. High satisfaction levels with a current employer do not necessarily indicate that the workforce is actively striving to deliver to the corporate goals with a high degree of emotional investment and willingness to “go the extra mile or more”. Indeed I have sometimes seen a team deliver demonstrate fantastic commitment to the cause whilst simultaneously being extremely ambivalent about the company itself and its declared vision. There needs to be a binding force that propels the team to collective and collaborative success, but that is not always a positive endorsement of the corporate goals. People are complex but team dynamics arguably even more so.
Perhaps the most frequent cul-de-sac I see companies rush into at high speed is to confused engagement with a multitude of technological enabled interaction channels. This particular vice seems most likely when the senior management feels it has to engage with the younger segments of its demographic. A fixation on terms like “Generation Y” or “Millennials” and the imperative to focus on digital world based interaction above all else. Clearly taking advantage of the opportunity presented by social media to engage with the workforce is today an essential step. However it is equally important to have the compelling content to stimulate debate and sell the key messages to the team. At the risk entering a world of clichés the right approach is to have a well-articulated and compelling set of messages conveyed via a communication strategy blending a range of channels to enable individuals to engage, absorb and contribute in the manner most relevant and comfortable to them.
Identifying the behavioral drivers for individuals, teams and entire organisations, and effectively aligning those to the corporate objectives is a key part of the workforce engagement puzzle. Over recent years I have seen a rising number of situations where a key component of a successful engagement strategy has been placing those actions and desired goals beyond personal or corporate gain to having a positive impact on society itself. In short to have a clear link to a clearly articulated corporate social responsibility commitment. I am not discounting the criticality of having an employee engagement strategy with integrity that ensures convergence of vision, values and actions. I am arguing that the truly high performing organisations with highly engaged and motivated employees frequently seem to create a balance between the drivers of the individual, the company and the society within which they sit. My musings along this line of thought were triggered by reading an excellent interview with Adam Grant a professor from Wharton Business School discussing his recently published book “Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success”. I think his material does hit on some key themes which need to be contemplated when considering what exactly does employee engagement mean and how is it used as a force for good.
Image via Shutterstock, Engage – 223446205