Issue 10: meaningful engagement
Engagement is one of the most critical processes in a high performing organisation, yet it is often one that falls between the cracks in the organisation chart. Issue 10 includes client stories on AstraZeneca, NHS Live and the Environment Agency, and chapters on: Who leads on engagement?, How do you engage and empower the frontline? and Whose job is it anyway?
Engage. v (engages, engaging, engaged) 1. attract or involve someone’s interest or attention. 2. (engage in/with) become involved in. 3. employ. 4. enter into a contract to do something. 5. enter into combat with. 6. (of a part of a machine or engine) move into position so as to begin to operate.
Pocket Oxford English Dictionary, 10th Edition
So what’s new about ‘engagement’?
It’s a big ask. Chief executives are suddenly recognising that ‘effective engagement of our employees’ is the key to increased productivity, to profitability, to the successful implementation of strategy, the retention of key talent and thus the key to competitive advantage. They instinctively know it’s important to ensure employees want to follow through on delivering the strategic intent, yet there is much confusion about what it is, how you create it, whose job it is to make it happen and how you measure it.
Of course, the topic of employee engagement has been around for a while. There is a vast body of literature exploring the links between engaged employees and leadership effectiveness, between employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction, between empowered employees and productivity, between brand ambassadors and customer experiences. Not to mention the popular conferences that share best practice client stories of how organisations have achieved phenomenal increases in employee engagement – as measured by their employee surveys or retention rates. But is something new happening?
How do people define it?
Here are some typical assumptions about ‘engagement’:
- It’s a task or process where the outputs can be tracked and measured
- It’s a roll-out or communication cascade of a strategically important message
- It’s about getting buy in to the message
- It’s getting people aligned as a group, not as individuals
- It’s the job of HR or Communications to make it happen.