fbpx Skip to main content

When you Google employee engagement, there are about 6,640,000 results of linked content. And all of that content can be easily summed up with one Wikipedia entry. There is information out there about every thing under the sun, in regards to employee engagement.

But to steal a Dr. Phil phrase, “How’s that working for you?”

Employee engagement can be googled, solutions can be provided by your vendor and you may even learn something on the Wikipedia entry.

But employee engagement that means something to your employees, can’t be learned from a quick search.

You’re Thinking about Engagement Wrong

I’m going to call a spade a spade – your entire definition and approach to employee engagement is likely, wrong. Not effective. Not meaningful to your audience (your employees).

It’s not really about engagement, or how you are currently defining it (which is probably a definition your survey vendor or consulting agency gave you). It’s about building meaningful connections with each and every employee that works for you, that you want to retain.

I’ve been seeing a lot of people talking about bringing “human” back into employee engagement – in fact, building a human workforce is the theme for an HR conference this year. And that’s important – your employees ARE human (and newsflash, so are you).

When as HR professionals we start thinking about employee engagement, we forget that we are part of the target audience too. So start with you as your “human” reference. Ask yourself and your HR team: What makes you feel connected to the company?

Not what engages you or makes you happy, but why do you stay? You make a choice everyday to work at your company… why? Why do you choose that instead of finding a new role?

How do you connect with your job, your peers, your coworkers, your clients, your boss, your department, your company? What is meaningful, to you, in those relationships?

That’s what engagement is about: meaningful connections between one employee and a company.

When you’re clear on the variety of answers to this question across your department, then start thinking about all of the “HR things” that you want to incorporate: compensation, benefits, wellness programs, performance reviews, and so on.

25 years ago or so, when we started learning about employee engagement, we immediately started asking our employees questions about it. Are you engaged now? Does this help or hurt your engagement? Can you be engaged in (enter scenario)? Does leadership engage you?

Look at your current employee engagement survey now: are your questions more along the lines of these examples? Are you asking about nebulous things that are more HR-related than human/people-related?

Do you think any of those items impacts your own engagement at your company?

If you compared your connections and relationships with your friends outside of work, are those the same things that bond your friendships? I think not. Instead, your friends have certain values, idiosyncrasies, a mutual bond or experience, an understanding and acceptance of who you are as a person, and so on.

Aren’t those the same core things we are seeking at work? THAT’S the basis of strong employee engagement. Recognizing those unique attributes that make us, us – that create long-lasting relationships with our friends and our company’s.