I know I said a few weeks back I wouldn’t post again about employee engagement. Technically I said I wouldn’t post on the importance of employee engagement and this is a post about how to actually increase engagement which is a bit different. This post is about how almost all of the advice out there on employee engagement is wrong. I do see a few people pulling at the threads of the real root cause of disengagement, but not nearly enough.

So, to once again demonstrate the ongoing stupidity around employee engagement and the fact that almost $1 TRILLION has been spent on it in the last 5 years with ZERO impact, I am going to remix, rehash and old post. (FYI: I am not making up that number. That’s from Forrester.)

I’d even go a bit deeper and say it’s been longer than that and even more money has been thrown at it.

Targeting the Wrong Audience

What follows is a bit of a remix/rehash of a post from… wait for it… 2007! Yeah… not much has changed in 11 years. I had to check that the post I referenced was still available.

I started by referencing a nice post on employee engagement from systematicHR where they brought together some of the various opinions and survey results on what engages employees. They identified eight (8) common drivers of employee engagement. When I first read the list it hit me that most clients target programs at their employees to increase engagement and worry almost exclusively about influencing the employee. And THAT is the problem IMO. 

The chart below lists the eight (8) elements identified by systematicHR that drive employee engagement and I added my opinion on who has the most impact on positive engagement outcome.


See the pattern?

If we want to impact employee engagement we need to impact the manager. 

Once again, we start by trying to fix the symptom instead of the root cause.

Don’t get me wrong. Employees have a role. Employees have a responsibility to grow and learn and be adaptable as opportunities arise. Engagement is a two-way street, a good manager will provide the appropriate room for growth and engagement and open the door for their staff. But the employee must make the effort to walk through the door.

When developing your engagement plan – start and finish – with your managers.