Employee Engagement is a hot topic right now. It is, however, possibly an even trickier one than most of us realise. That’s because we all have a different definition of what it actually is.
In their 2009 report “Engaging for Success: Enhancing Performance Through Employee Engagement” commissioned by the UK government, David MacLeod and Nita Clarke admitted that, “There is no one agreed definition of employee engagement – during the course of this review we have come across more than 50 definitions.” As they point out, this makes it a difficult subject. How can we improve employee engagement if we cannot even agree what it is?
Perhaps we are over-complicating things.
Intrinsically employee engagement is all about engendering an environment where your people act and react as if they owned the business. This means that you are really trying to create a culture where “your business is their business.” This, as the word ‘engagement’ implies, means it is as much about your employees’ needs.
Looking at the subject in this light brings new perspective to the concept of work-life integrity and compels you to recognise that your people are investing their lives working for you. This subtly changes the framing from being about them as employees and makes it more about them as individuals. This changes the paradigm of the relationship and makes employment more of a partnership. Just as you need your people to enhance your performance, so they need you to help them enhance their capability. In turn this creates the natural corollary to “your business is their business” by enabling them to be “the best they can be.” Now an investment in your people truly becomes an investment in your business.
Ironically, this will drive performance improvement in the manner originally intended by employee engagement. That is why I am so excited by my ‘Every Individual Matters’ model.
Bay is the founder and director of Zealise, and the creator of the ‘Every Individual Matters’ organisational culture model that helps transform organisational performance and bottom-line results. Bay is also the author of several books, including “Lean Organisations Need FAT People” and “The 7 Deadly Toxins of Employee Engagement.”