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September 2014

August 2014

Why Employee Engagement Programmes Rarely Work

Have you noticed how employee engagement statistics rarely change? It does not seem to matter who conducts the research or whether it applies to the UK, the US, Europe or Australasia, you will learn either that only around 30% of your employees are engaged or that around 70% of your employees are disengaged. And in the decade or so that I have been monitoring these numbers they have not changed. What do you think that tells us?

Apart from indicating that employee engagement is a serious problem, this clearly says that employee engagement efforts do not seem to be working. When you factor in the increasing attention this subject is being given, this becomes a major concern. More and more employee engagement is a key issue for most organisations. So you have to ask yourself if your current approach is really working and – if not – why not.

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Beware Employee Engagement Hyperbole!

Unless you are Rip Van Winkle and have been asleep for the past decade and more, you cannot have failed to notice the increasing prominence of employee engagement. It is a topic that has become a key priority for the HR profession and that is also dominating discussion in the executive suite. CEO’s, facing an ever-increasing challenge to implement strategy in a high-pressured, constantly changing, competitive environment, are waking up to the wisdom of Doug Conant’s words, “To win in the marketplace you first have to win the workplace.”  

In other words to be successful you have to win the support of your employees. You cannot will your way to success and you can no longer command your way there either. It is no wonder that employee engagement is such a hot issue. Unfortunately, there is a great danger that it is being over-hyped.

I encountered two very different examples of that this week.    

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Why You Need Employees – and Especially Engaged Employees

Included in yesterday’s reports of falling UK unemployment was a statistic that a record number of people are self-employed. You cannot help wondering what this really signifies. An optimist might say this is positive and shows increasing enterprise and budding entrepreneurship that bodes well for the future of the economy. On the other hand, a pessimist would argue that this shows an increasing desperation as it simply means people are giving up on trying to find a job and doing whatever they can to earn a livelihood.

As ever the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle. The report, however, rekindled a pet theme of mine: that ultimately everyone works for themselves. After all, bar a fortunate few, we are all compelled to earn a living. For the majority of us that entails “getting a job”. Nothing, however, compels us to take, or continue in, the job we currently have. So you could say that the work we do is largely a matter of personal choice, which effectively means that everyone is actually working for themselves.  

Recognising that could profoundly change the way you look at things.

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Why Employee Engagement is Essential and How to Ensure It

Data substantiating the link between employee engagement and business results continues to proliferate; helping to raise the profile of this important subject. And, as a result, more and more is being done to improve employee engagement. Yet, despite this, surveys by Gallup and others continue to show scant improvement. Year after year around 70% of the workforce remains disengaged.   

As a business leader you have to ask yourself, “why?” If the figures aren’t improving, despite all your best efforts and the resources you are investing in employee engagement, you have two basic questions you need to get to grips with:

  • Is your effort justified?
  • Are you going about it the wrong way?    

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