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Collaboration, Collective Intelligence & Employee Engagement

Employee Engagement & the Holy Grail

What do happiness and employee engagement have in common?

Actually it may be more than you think. In fact it is quite possible that they are different facets of the same thing. Let me explain before you start thinking that I have totally lost my marbles.

Happiness is an emotional state. As such you can argue that it is conditional, circumstantial and transitory – and possibly even transcendental. Certainly it varies in intensity and over time. It is also very personal and thus unique to the individual. It is therefore virtually impossible to qualify, quantify, or to contain. Ultimately it is simply an undefinable state of well-being; feeling good about life and your place in it at a particular moment or over a specific period.

That can make it elusive. However, it gets more complicated: because it is intensely personal something that may be one person’s delight may be another’s nightmare. This makes it impossible to have a standard formula for happiness or to deliver it on a mass scale.

Employee engagement is the same. It also an emotional state, subject to fluctuations while being difficult to qualify and quantify. This variableness may also be the result of events and circumstances

outside of a person’s direct control. This makes it is intensely personal and therefore the degree of engagement is likely to be different for every employee, subject to their situation at any particular time. In fact because the concept of engagement applies only the work situation you could argue that engagement is the work equivalent of happiness.

To put that another way you could say happiness is a personal perspective of one’s situation and engagement is the organisational perspective of one’s situation. The implications of this are profound. People find the pursuit of happiness hard enough in their own lives, so why should the organisation try to do it for them?

Holy Grail iStock_000007171780If, however, this hasn’t convinced you of the massive scale of the concept and you still feel compelled to pursue the holy grail of employee engagement, then you had best remember the primary intrinsic motivators identified by Daniel Pink in his book, “Drive”:

  •   Autonomy
  •   Mastery
  •   Purpose

The mnemonic AMP – as a measure of power – is a useful reminder of these, for these elements power the drive for fulfilment and hence happiness. Consequently if you create a culture that engenders these you will ensure that you have engaged employees.

Coincidentally, you will also have made the world a happier place with more happy people.


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