Engagement By Any Other Name Will Smell As Bad

Employee engagement.

Employee experience.

It’s not culture, its community.

There is no culture.

Those concepts have been swirling around lately as it relates to how to connect companies and employees. Businesses (or is it just consultants who sell to companies) are not happy with how we address the problem of employee engagement. Heck a few months back Bernsin even floated the weird idea that it wasn’t about employee engagement anymore – it was about employee “marriage.” (BTW – is it just me or did you just read that like “mawiage” like the clergy in Princess Bride?) I said when that idea was published in Forbes that it was just a consultant looking for a way out of bad outcomes.  Consultants have been pumping engagement for years with no real results to show so rather than fix the problem they changed the definitions and the words we use.

I see similar things going on now as we start parsing the words we use. Is it employee engagement, or is it employee experience?  Do we even want to call it a culture? Some are saying it isn’t culture it is really about community and connections between employees.  And then there’s those that just flat out don’t believe there is company culture that everything is just simply business.

But in my mind, here’s the bottom line.

As long as organizations and the people in them continued to create engagement programs and artificial structures from a position of wanting to make more money they.will.fail.

In other words, what is the intent of the program?  What is the intent of the initiative? Is it designed to help and support employees or is it to improve bottom line? And don’t throw the ROI argument at me. Companies do a ton of things that aren’t subject to an ROI inquisition. What’s the ROI on the telephone in your office? You don’t know. You haven’t done one. #Protip: In today’s world I’ll almost guess it’s not ROI positive. But we can argue that some other day.

I firmly believe until employees see the efforts of engagement, experience, community, or whatever, as being part of an overall strategy of treating employees as human beings and not treating them as a resource to maximize or optimize, there will be no impact on employee engagement scores.

So, call it what you want a rose by any other name it will be ineffective.

We will never impact the level of commitment and engagement that an employee has with an organization until we stop looking at these efforts as an organizational problem and look at it as a human problem.  Remember, there is no company.  There are only people that work together toward a common objective.  Part of the problem here is many companies don’t even know what that common objective is, but that’s for another day and another post.

If you want to impact engagement start thinking like people working with people.

I’ve said before and I’ll say it again, engagement starts from human beings being human.

Now off to work and off my soapbox.

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