Employee Engagement – Who Is Responsible?

engagementAre you engaged at work?  Are your employees engaged at work?  The more I read and study the idea of employee engagement, the more I have become convinced that engagement is not only the problem of the employer, but the responsibility.

For anyone to be engaged in what they are doing, at least in the long term, they need to have a passion or at least an interest in what they are doing.  I can’t say that I personally know any call center operators or telemarketers, but my guess is that not too many of them are “lifers.”  Nothing against those professions, but it seems to me that the ceiling for advancement would be fairly low.

I will admit, a lot of this post is based on my opinion, but hey it’s my post so I guess I can share what I think based on my observations.  The people that I have seen engaged in their work, are passionate about what they are doing and are interested and even invested in the outcome of their efforts.

On the other side of the fence are those that simply are at a “transitional” place of employment.  You know the guy – the one who was “looking for a job when he found this one.”

Now I have been around long enough to realize that in most cases, ALL your employees are not committed to “being here forever” and at some point in time they will leave.

So how is an employer supposed to feel comfortable knowing that they are training and investing in their employees knowing that they will someday take those skills somewhere else?

Well I guess you don’t ever get comfortable but what can you do in the meantime? Anyone who has studied the idea of engagement knows that the “paycheck” is not the real motivation for most employees.

What motivates employees is to be valued, recognized for their achievements and to be given ownership in what they are doing.  In addition, those businesses that emphasize balance and family are much more likely to have engaged employees.

I have had the opportunity to work on projects at Intel and Nike in the past and both companies go over and above to create a work environment favorable to the person working there.  In fact, this is one of the things emphasized when recruiting potential employees.  They get it – create a space that the employee WANTS to be at and they will get an engaged employee.

So what does all this mean?  Well, it means that if you want to hire for the long haul, you better find out what motivates your people.  I have posted numerous times about the “why” that drives us and knowing that it is hard enough just to identify our own why, it is that much more difficult to identify the why of your employees.

I have been in the business world for over thirty years and have seen people come and go over that time.  In my opinion, the ones that stay are one of three things; (1) afraid to go anywhere else, (2) there because they they are alright with complacency and have no desire to disrupt their repetitive world, or (3) they are passionate about what they are doing and where they are doing it at.

So if you are an employer, take a look at your employees and see if you can figure out which one of these groups they fall into.  If you work for someone else and you are not in the third group then ask yourself this question; “Why am I not engaged in what I am doing and what would it take to be engaged?”

The bottom line is that satisfied employees are not only more engaged, they are more productive.  So whose responsibility is it for employee engagement?  If you want your business to be successful, you better make it yours.

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Barry Smith    7/15/13   photo by author   © Building What Matters 2013

4 Responses to “Employee Engagement – Who Is Responsible?”

  1. Completely agree Barry. The employer must set the tone. This sometimes seems counterintuitive due to the employer providing money in exchange for work. Give me a smaller team of passionate people over a team of complacency any day of the week. If we want that culture we must work to create it.

  2. Jo says:

    Thanks Barry, love your closing sentiments especially and couldn’t agree more!