There is increasing evidence that suggests employee engagement is "this year's hot topic." But is it being driven by management or is the subject being dominated by business schools and consultants looking for new sources of revenue?
The recent headline, "Employers don’t' understand engagement" certainly seems to imply the latter. It is based on a survey that concludes "49% of employers don't understand the level of engagement of their employees" while 42% "admit they do not know how to engage them." If they don't understand these fundamentals, it would seem more likely that the issue is an induced concern. Yet there are two reasons to think this is not the case.
Firstly, the sheer pace of change demands adaptive, responsive organisations capable of reacting quickly to shifting demands. However, the generally poor record for implementing change suggests businesses are not meeting this demand.
Secondly, (and not unconnected) to remain competitive, a business requires a clear line of sight between strategy and implementation, with people all pulling in the same direction. Here too, the frequency with which managers and employees disparage each other's efforts suggests that such strategic alignment remains rare.
The importance of these goals, and the difficulty in achieving them, must tell management that employee engagement is a problem. Consequently the lack of progress in solving it can arguably be attributed to two major factors:
- A lack of urgency. Despite these pressures management have not realised what employee disengagement is actually costing their business.
- Their having little or no idea as to the solution.
While business leaders remain largely disconnected from their employees and are rightly criticised for that, the fact is there is very little in the plethora of material written on the subject that offers them much in the way of practical solutions. Consequently, they are left feeling isolated and lacking the tools they need to redress the problem, which persists and grows. And all so unnecessarily!