Jasmine is concerned with practical, tactical ways to bolster employee engagement, diversity and ultimately improve organisational cultures. She gives actionable advice to help HR professionals improve their organisations one step at a time and is known as a trainer, consultant and public speaker. Prior to moving to London in 2008, she was a professor teaching international business majors at the State University of New York. Her clients include PepsiCo, CBI, HarperCollins and Prudential. Jasmine’s book, ‘Employee Engagement: a little book of Big Ideas,’ is available to buy.

Over the last fifteen years or so, a lot of research has been done. People and companies have been thrown a great deal of money at the problem of disengagement in the workplace.

There are probably hundreds of articles and thought pieces about employee engagement (including my own, of course!).

And yet, the number of actively engaged employees has hovered at about 33% for over a decade.

If that number won’t budge, it makes me wonder if we’re approaching the whole issue in the wrong way. Is engagement something we can fix? Is it something we should fix?

Or do we need to take a step backward, get a bigger picture view, and reconsider what it is we need to solve?

I think people are perhaps so fixated on how to solve this huge problem of disengagement, that we’ve forgotten why we’re trying to do this, and where this problem came from in the first place.

If we could identify what it is we’re trying to solve with engagement, there might be some other solutions.

Is engagement something we can fix? Is it something we should fix?

So: if employee engagement is the answer, what is the question?

I think the question is: how do we get people to come to work, work hard and be productive?

This is easier with some kinds of work than others. It used to be that employers offered jobs for life – security in exchange for what was perhaps not very exciting or motivating work.

For some people, work is the answer to fending off the poverty that is at the door. That might be motivation enough.

Some people go to work because of a high salary. Others go for the perks.

If we could identify what it is we’re trying to solve with engagement, there might be some other solutions.

Many choose careers that give them status and respect in our society. Still others might decide to work a job that is poorly paid financially but allows them to contribute to society by doing good.

But what about all those jobs that lack glamour, pay or non-financial reward?

How do those employers compete with the ones who do offer all the amazing benefits and perks? How do you get people to come to work at those jobs? And how will our society function if nobody wants to do the jobs that lack glamour, pay or non-financial reward?

How will our society function if nobody wants to do the jobs that lack glamour, pay or non-financial reward?

And I think employee engagement is the answer to this question: I’m just not sure it’s the right answer.

If you’ve been reading my column, then you know I usually close with some practical tips. But as this is an idea I’ve just started thinking about, I haven’t got any tips yet. Instead, what I’d really like is to start a conversation with you about it.

So, what do you think? Is employee engagement dead?

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