Employee engagement is a topical issue beyond just the HR community. Like many such issues, however, employee engagement means something different to different people. This makes it fundamentally an umbrella term. Even in the report on the subject, commissioned originally by Prime Minister Tony Blair, authors David MacLeod and Nita Clarke gave up trying to find a common definition after identifying more than fifty viable definitions. So instead they distilled it down to 4 fundamentals, which can be even more briefly summed up as:-
- Strong strategic narrative
- Engaging managers
- Employee voice
- Organisational integrity
Fundamental though these may be, you could argue that they are still fuzzy. Certainly to get a clearer understanding of them you need to dive deeper.
- Purpose and vision
Yet, while succinct and neat, these are just words and still need a context. This is perhaps best achieved by asking what it would take to deliver them – in other words identifying the requirements for each. The ones I came up with for each were:
- Clarity and focus
So where is this leading? It is just another list of words. Yes, but when you put all the words in a table you start to see the ingredients of employee engagement and the core recipe for achieving employee engagement.
Now you have a clearer basis for moving forward. Yet, there is more value here than you may first appreciate.
If you think about it more deeply you will see that these are also the requirements for organisational sustainability. Without these you face greater risk to the long term survival of your organisation. Now you can understand why employee engagement is not an airy-fairy, feel-good concept that HR is trying to foist upon you, but an essential part of business and something that you are – or should be – doing as an integral part of leading your organisation. This is where engagement and success come together. Without employee engagement your success will always be limited.