Recognise This! – Buzzwords don’t deliver desired results. Effort to communicate meaning and value does.

There seems to be a good bit of push-back against employee engagement lately. I can’t say I’m surprised. This is fairly typical as any good idea or methodology morphs into a buzzword over time. However, the fundamental problem isn’t with the concept, but with how it’s often implemented or viewed.

What is the problem, then? Providing an engaging workplace isn’t enough. Training managers on employee engagement isn’t enough. In a terrific article on TLNT about this,Theresa Welbourne notes further:

Is this what’s needed to grow, innovate and be successful? People show up at work? That’s why engagement is starting to backfire. We also learned that:

Engagement just may be the wrong word, the wrong concept and it’s probably the wrong time to keep focussing on it. Business is about performance, and high performing people are needed to grow a business. High performing people are smart, and they are not easily fooled.

It’s time to go beyond the fairy tale of employee engagement and move to a more rigorous, business-focussed approach to managing people at work.

Dr. Welbourne’s last bullet above is particularly on point. How can we ask employees to engage if we don’t also make clear what it is we’re asking them to engage with. This is another way of conveying the importance of the meaning of the work – helping employees understand the deeper or greater value their daily efforts have within the bigger picture. When people understand the deeper value, they naturally and willingly “engage” to go the extra step.

Read this story of the Mayo Clinic hospital janitor who defined his job as saving lives. He knows the deeper meaning of his work. Do you?