Employee Engagement Is Not Happiness

It is not your responsibility to make your employees happy.

It is not your responsibility to make your employees happy.

This blog post from Ed Muzio talks of a trap for employers when it comes to employee engagement. He had me worried for a while with his talk of happiness, as if employee engagement and employee happiness were interchangeable terms. But then he got on track (by which I mean, he stated a line of thinking with which I agree) and his key point was that the trap employers fall into is thinking that employee engagement is their responsibility to generate and maintain.

Let’s leave the whole ‘happiness’ thing out of it. Engagement is not happiness. Radiantly joyful workers can be costly and unproductive. They can be efficient and productive. Dour workers can be either-or too. Engagement does not equal happiness. Engagement is the choice by employees to apply discretionary effort. They choose to do more than they HAVE TO. Why? Less to do with happiness than it is with the fundamental human needs for mastery, autonomy and purpose. I love Dan Pink’s book ‘Drive’ on this.

But I like the blogger’s key point. It isn’t the employer’s responsibility. You, me or anyone else cannot truly motivate anyone else. Genuine, long-term behaviour-changing motivation must be internal. I suppose you can put a gun to someone’s head or threaten their children and that will ‘motivate’ them to do what you want. Yup. Effective – in the short-term – but relationship-damaging and expensive, plus you and your gun would always have to be around. The same goes for any so-called incentifying carrots and sticks. The best an employer can do (and should do) is create and maintain an engagement-supportive workplace. THAT’S the responsibility of employers. Individual engagement is up to individuals.

You can’t force, even in a seemingly unforceful and caring way, others to be engaged. It’s up to them. It’s like donating blood. Donating blood is a noble and unselfish act (assuming it’s your own blood….)

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 November 5, 2012, in Employee Engagement, Team Building and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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