The subject of Employee Engagement is getting a lot of press lately. Books, articles, forums – every possible variable in the engagement conundrum are discussed ad infinitum. Walking through Barnes and Noble recently I spied a book that I assumed was going right at the issue. It was entitled “Happy,Happy, Happy”, by Phil Robertson. Then I discovered he was of Duck Dynasty fame and it had nothing to do with employee engagement!!
Really…. so much of what I read on the subject is on the warm and fuzzy side and appears to push the notion that end result of all engagement initiatives should be to insure our employees are “happy”. Of course the authors typically use more sophisticated terms then happy, but you get the point.
Organizational engagement is not about happy – rather it’s about effectiveness, focus, cohesiveness, achieving objectives and tangible/identifiable improvements in financial results. Really. A Marine Corp platoon in Afghanistan is not happy, yet they are very cohesive, effective and engaged. My previous post describes an employee who is highly engaged in the performance of her company AND very unhappy. They are not mutually exclusive. In fact having employees very unhappy may be a strong indicator of their level of true engagement. The most costly and most difficult condition to detect is one of employee indifference. I discuss strategies to deal with that in Part 2.
Many organizations survey their employees to death in an attempt to quantify their level of engagement. Knowing how employees feel is good information. However I believe the best place to measure employee engagement is in the company’s financial statement. If engagement is not resulting in identifiable/quantifiable improvements in overall financial results, then I would question what the objective truly is.
Using football as an analogy, let me put it this way. Yes, it is very important to measure the “statistics” of the game – yards rushing, yards passing, defensive stats, penalty yards, etc. BUT, it is MORE important to measure the score of game. Did we win or lose? Too many businesses are covered up with engagement statistics (and others), but totally lack a scoreboard that shares with employees both the information and rewards of winning the game, real time. Engagement initiatives must be focused on, and held accountable to improving organizational performance every month.
In part 2 of this series entitled “Driving the Economics of Employee Engagement”, I will discuss creating a leadership environment, and measuring engagement real time on the financial statement. This will be posted in 7 to 10 days.
We also have a powerful, and if I can use the term… engaging… presentation on this subject available for senior staff meetings or public speaking venues for your trade or professional business association. Please contact me for more information.