Recognise This! – Sometimes, removing bureaucracy and getting out of people’s way are the most “engaging” things you can do.

Last month, I wrote a post on 3 Good Reasons Employee Engagement Surveys Fail. I talked about the reality of your most disengaged employees being so disengaged, they’re not bothering to take your survey, thereby skewing the results.

Laurie Ruettimann, a blogger and HR thought leader I enjoy in her Cynical Girl incarnation, added her thoughts to failed engagement surveys in a post on Fistful of Talent. Where I looked at failed surveys from the position of the DISengaged ignoring the survey, Laurie takes the opposite perspective, offering a strong argument for why the highly engaged ignore the survey, too. Bottom-line: they’re so happily busy and engaged, they don’t want to stop to bother with your survey.

So, if both the highly disengaged and highly engaged are ignoring your survey, where does that leave you?

I say, focus less on “engagement” and more on creating a workplace in which employees not only want to engage but can also easily do so. This quote from Forrester gets close to what I mean:

“Engagement means different things to HR and IT leaders. The first question I posed to the group was how they defined employee engagement. Ed Flahive, representing an HR department, spoke in terms of employee retention and employee connectedness to their job. The two technologists on the panel, however, spoke in terms of engaging technology which spurred collaboration or made it easy for individuals to do their work. I found this distinction interesting because it clearly came from different focus areas — people management vs. technology management — and illustrated a hurdle that organisations will need to clear to successfully provide engaging experiences for employees. In the long run, HR, business and IT leaders must think about employee engagement in the same terms. For IT leaders, this means that you aren’t simply creating “engaging technology,” but that you’re creating technology experiences that support the business’s efforts to engage employees in their work. This is a subtle shift, but it is a different mindset that focuses attention on the person instead of the slickness of the technology.”

Give employees what they need to do their jobs. Even better, remove the barriers to them doing so. Encourage people to flourish, make that possible, then get out of their way. Of course, it certainly helps to recognise and praise success along the way.

What keeps you from being as fully engaged as possible in your work?

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