The concept of Employee Centric Engagement is not new. It has been around in different guises over the years and would appear to be the best description of how we want to engage employees. However, it is not necessarily how organisations actually deliver on engagement.
We hear all the time about ‘person centred’ approaches when we talk about coaching, mentoring, empowerment, engagement, collaboration and employee contribution. Valuing employees and statements about how ‘our people are our brand’ are also evidence that organisations and leaders are aware that employee centric engagement is the way to go.
And yet, when organisations actually invest in engaging and valuing their employees, they tend to forget all this. Instead of employee centric engagement activities, they tend to pin their hopes on one-size fits all events such as social events, pizza and beer on Fridays, charitable fundraising etc.
What is wrong with these engagement events? Nothing….if they are part of a bigger engagement strategy. However, these events are usually delivered as the key engagement activity in a lot of companies. It is the main event for employee engagement, rolled out in the hope that engagement levels rise.
Why more employees are not becoming more engaged.
Engagement strategies are planned with the best intentions by most employers. They discuss employee centric approaches and know the business benefits of an engaged workforce. Yet, the next engagement strategy will undoubtedly end up focusing on a key event or activity.
Employees are individuals. Each one comes to work with a unique set of requirements, ambitions and needs they would love to fulfil through their job. The 4 reasons outlined below illustrate why we have some more work to do to live the ’employee centric engagement’ dream.
4 Reasons Why Employee Centric Engagement Does Not Happen
There are some reasons why business owners are continually attracted to these events and activities as the focus of their employee engagement strategy. Even when it has been used before with little impact.
Highly engaged employees
Highly engaged employees take responsibility for their own engagement, they engage customers, and they don’t feel entitled. More importantly, these individuals will be highly engaged no matter where they are.
Employers are distracted by these qualities and want more people to take this approach.
People are individuals. Not all of them will be engaged no matter where they are. Many are willing to be engaged but feel disempowered by the organisation or management. They feel discouraged from taking responsibility for their own engagement.
The lesson here is to look past employees who are already highly engaged. The big business wins will be achieved by learning how to engage those who are willing to be engaged.
Organisations fear empowering employees
There is little doubt that employers are fearful of empowering employees to actively pursue what will ultimately engage them. There is a fear concerning the goal of such pursuits and that it will ultimately cost the organisation dearly.
In my experience, this simply isn’t true. Employees are intelligent people. Most of them are very aware of the terms and conditions of their employment and know that salary increases etc. are unlikely. Remember, you want to empower those who are willing to be engaged.
When digging deep into employee engagement issues for our clients, we have found that a significant portion of disengaged employees feel this way because a need (usually concerning career, development, interesting work) is not being fulfilled.
Data only employee engagement platforms
Business leaders are increasingly turning to data for their employee engagement solutions. Data is presented in real-time to a dashboard – which is great technologically and very attractive to businesses.
Data only platforms, however, create problems. They simply provide the data with little insight or interpretation of what it actually means, frequently leaving HR and business leaders to create their own action plans.
This data and feedback should be interpreted by an experienced and qualified person (i.e. Organisational Psychologist or HR Professional) and a bespoke, non-automated report written for your business focusing on your particular requirements.
Pictures of people eating pizza and smiling
Please could someone start a movement to stop pictures showing ‘engaged employees’ doing things like eating pizza. It creates a perception that this is how you engage employees. It can help maintain engagement (your highly engaged employees will love it) but won’t engage many employees.
Employees willing to be engaged are looking for simpler things such as being treated fairly, feeling valued for the work they do, feel empowered to take responsibility for their own engagement, and have access to interesting and challenging work.
Get these things right, develop your leaders to be engaging, and then add the icing to the cake with pizza and beer.
Employee centric engagement is very close to you and not as difficult to achieve as you might think. You need a blend of psychology and technology to create the right balance between data gathering and interpretation of that data.