Tuesday, May 7, 2013

2,380 days later!

I have done over 300 speaking engagements on the topic of Employee Engagement over the last 6 years and I am getting tired. My quest to find the essence of what creates organizational culture and how we can empower workforce awesomeness has been trumped by a number of things:
  • People who seek easy answers to complex organizational problems.
  • Vendors who think gifts and/or technology can automate engagement.
  • Organizational indecision due to fear of change.
  • ....and so much more
In simplest terms, Engagement can not be packaged and sold. Engagement is not a benefit. There is no turnkey solution to create Engagement.

I know I sound like a broken record...but let's set the records straight. Here are a collection of discoveries made in my time in the trenches (a thousand cups of coffee and many miles later).

How do you know if a manager is protecting the herd?
Employees don't leave companies, they leave managers. An expert in the field of engagement remarked, "managers who rule by the clock are dangerously incompetent". Employees need to have transparent, trusting relationships with their managers. Micro-management has to be replaced by performance empowerment. Organizations need a pipeline from employee to manager to CEO (No, I'm not talking about a performance review).

The recession is no longer an excuse!
Organizations that used the "you're lucky to have a job" ethos during troubling economic times are experiencing mass exodus. As I write this The Dow has closed at an all-time high, the housing market is improving, and believe it or not companies are hiring again. Fear and intimidation has a new audience: Management!

What's your price?
Not surprisingly, there is a direct correlation between the amount of money it would take an employee to leave an organization and their level of engagement. The only employees who complain about the value of their benefits are those who are not performing to their highest potential. Reciprocity will accelerate when you tune out the squeaky wheel.

Your greatest Marketing tool!
An engaged corporate culture extends beyond the organizational walls and into your customers world. There is a direct correlation between the level of an employee's engagement and their ability to advocate the organizational cause...and this sells products and services better than any sales person or marketing campaign.

You cannot hide!
If you are mistreating employees it will be broadcast to billions of people via social media before the report reaches Human Resources. Managing in silos is no longer an option. Everyone should be accountable for their level of performance in an open forum. The days of sheltering mediocrity are over.

Wellness is not just for gym rats!
Wellness is popular theme in Human Resources, mostly connected to pedometers and reduced insurance costs. It's not about that. Workers who are allowed work/life balance are more productive. It has been proven that if you give employees half days in the summer, they will perform 5 days work in 4.5 days.

We're not entitled, we're bored!
There is a compound word used to describe generational stereotyping: Bullshit! Iggy Pop is 66 years old...need I say more? Generation Y has been unfairly stereotyped worse than any sub-population in professional history. It's a tired, uninventive concept! Workers are not entitled, they're bored. They can do the work in half the time of their predecessors and your process is wasting their talent.

The ceiling....
As I have stated previously, every promotion should be internal. Developing talent within your organization is HR's most critical responsibility. You can stop the exorbitant cost of recruiting and hiring if you do a better job developing talent. The concept that arming employees with too much knowledge will cause them to quit is absolutely asinine!

Amplify training!
Don't believe there is a need to educate your workforce on an ongoing basis? Does training still feel like torture for your employees? Take your kid fishing...hook a fish and let him reel in the last few turns. Then, let him catch his own fish and see the difference in reaction. You just turned a boring day with dad into a father/son tradition.

The only answer you need to hear:
I believe that I can accomplish more at my current company than I can anywhere else!

The quest for Employee Engagement continues and there are no simple answers. Worry not, I will keep fighting the good fight!

Don't Forget to Remember!



  1. Employee Engagement might not have simple answers, but this is a great starting point! I think practical benefits that make employee's lives easier, like a kitchen or shared assistant time to take care of time-consuming errands, really show a respect for your team's off-time.

  2. My goodness, if you speak about anything over 300 different engagements, it gets very old. I agree that employees dont leave companies, they do leave managers. I know because I've been one that has left because of a bad manager.