It’s true of all great things that they need to be worked at. There is often no quick fix or speedy pathway to success, you have got to create it, nurture it and grow it. Employee engagement is no different, however the same cannot be said for disengagement. I don’t believe that there is a happy accident when it comes to engaging your employees. You don’t just stumble upon the secret formula, it takes work and it takes effort.
Sometimes it starts with talk of happy or satisfied employees and whilst that would be great if it were achievable, engagement is so much more. Of course it would be fantastic if everybody who worked for you was happy or even satisfied but there are so many factors outside of your control to make that a certainty. Engaging your employees badly however can make people unhappy and even the best of intentions can come unstuck if the message is not believed or understood.
Having engagement at the centre of your culture is something that is mentioned often in many publications and posts that I see, but for me that is an outcome of all the different strands that make up great employee engagement. I don’t believe it is as simple as deciding that you want an employee centric culture. Change may need to happen to create it. If you talk about being employee centric and your employees don’t see it or feel it, then it may well be very difficult to action and could possibly cause employees to disengage with the organisation.
Employee engagement doesn’t happen in a vacuum, its about bringing people along on the journey. Imagine what an impossible task it would be to try and drive improvement If nobody has bought into the purpose and intention to change. A leader with no followers is unlikely to achieve much of any value in the long run. Talk can be cheap, but there is power to inspiring employees to reach for something better and to achieve it.
We see time and again from the research we do that employees want to be inspired, they want a sense of purpose, an understanding of how they fit in an organisation and that the contributions they are making are recognised and appreciated by those in charge. Again this takes work to achieve and a lack of purpose and understanding can lead to disengagement. We also see from our research just how much ‘feeling valued’ means to employees and how much it affects their engagement levels.
Disengagement can be like a weed, sneaking in between the cracks and if it is not dealt with then it can take root and begin to cause problems. Unlike engagement It doesn’t take much effort to foster disenchantment within an organisation. Also unlike engagement it doesn’t require attention to make it grow. Once the weed takes hold it can be more work to remove it than to ensure that it doesn’t appear in the first place.
This may be seen as a cautionary tale, that despite the efforts that are needed to be a great place to work it is ultimately more beneficial to take that path than to hope that your employees are engaged and run the risk that disengagement and dissatisfaction start to occur in your organisation. It would be nice to think that this is just a worst case scenario story, but in the course of our employee engagement research we have encountered this very story unfolding in some organisations.
Thankfully it is possible to halt disengagement and to reverse the slide of dissatisfied employees. It takes work and it takes initiative, but it can be immensely satisfying to see the results. The investment in a sound employee engagement strategy can really make a difference to your business. Actively choosing to pursue engagement before any problems arise can be a sure fire way to demonstrate to your employees that you care about them and want to foster a great culture.
Don’t leave it to chance – engage today!