The Employee Engagement Racket

This blog post from Liz Ryan reckons employee engagement is a racket for HR consultants to lever their way into organisations’ budgets preaching the faux theory de jour:

“Every decade or so, a bright new theory about managing people gets HR chiefs all excited… What is Employee Engagement? It’s a made-up construct that seeks to measure how well our employees like us. We used to talk about employee morale…”

Given how she defines employee engagement, I agree a bit with her. Quite a bit. If it is just another phrase for employe morale, I’ve blogged repeatedly how that doesn’t have that much to do by itself directly with productivity and profitability or even being a decent place to work. What people think they feel or say they think they feel on a survey is probably not worth the time to collect.

However, that’s not the true definition of employee engagement as measured by directly observable discretionary behaviour by employees. They don’t have to be happy or be able to recite the company’s mission from memory. Those two things may or may not contribute to a state of mind where the employee applies discretionary effort. That’s employee engagement – doing more than you have to, more than you’re told to – seeking improved mastery, autonomy and a sense of purpose, driven by heightened self awareness and a desire to influence others.

By that true (truer?) definition, I would not agree with Liz. Not about employee engagement anyways. I probably would about the whole general  ‘racket for HR consultants to lever their way into organisations’ budgets preaching the faux theory de jour’ thing. That happens all the time and for $3500 a day, I’ll tell you all about it. Might even draft up a survey…


About Terry Williams - The Brain-Based Boss

I'm all about engaging people and helping you engage yours to influence behaviour to improve results - at work and at home. Maybe you're a manager, a salesperson, a leader, a parent, a presenter or an event organiser? You need to grab your people's attention, create some rapport, be memorable and influence behaviour change. How can we do that? I'm originally a trainer by trade, turned manager, turned comedian and partway back again. Author of 'THE GUIDE: How to kiss, get a job & other stuff you need to know', I write and speak about how to engage people, be they employees, family or yourself. How can we connect with people’s own internal motivations and help them use their own inner passions to drive towards productivity, success and happiness? And hopefully have a few laughs along the way... As a trainer facilitating learning and development in others, I find myself drawing on my own extensive business experience. I specialise in the delivery of high impact, customised training solutions for organisations that are serious about improving the performance and lives of their people.

Posted on October 15, 2012, in Employee Engagement, Workplace Of Choice and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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