Except for a few classes in high school and college, I’m betting you haven’t used the word entropy in a long while. If you have, you’re traveling in better circles than me. In my group the most common words we use are “does it hurt when I do this” and “do these look like bed bug bites?”

But seriously. Entropy isn’t a word that gets a lot of play in the general discussion of business and in any discussion of employee engagement.

But I’m thinking it should. Stick with me here…

First of all – for those that won’t click the link above to the definition of entropy is –

…a lack of order or predictability; gradual decline into disorder. Synonyms include deterioration, degeneration, crumbling, decline, degradation, decomposition, breaking down, collapse.

I’m not smart enough to get into a more detailed discussion, but the idea of entropy in a system – and your business is a system – makes sense.

Without ongoing tweaks and updates the “system” that is your business will deteriorate. In fact, much of the work done by an organization is designed to simply maintain its structure, counteracting what they call “social entropy”. This is done through rules, training, and management oversight. But the harsh reality is without interventions, your company will get less and less efficient and less and less effective. The idea of entropy in a social network implies that networks break down over time, moving from cooperation and advancement towards conflict and chaos. Just like your business.

And that is a fundamental problem with the approach we have to employee engagement.

We continue to look for a solution that is a “set it and forget it” solution. We want to put in place a process, procedure, product or service that will run on autopilot and address the issues of disengagement in our organization. Unfortunately, our systems are constantly changing and, if you believe in entropy, deteriorating. Therefore, to maintain the same level of engagement we MUST intervene. We MUST change the process.

In other words, engagement is never done. It is never checked off the to-do list.

groundhogday2In fact – it is the Groundhog Day of business activities. Each day you wake up and at the top of your list is “Work on employee engagement.” It is always there. It will be there tomorrow and the day after tomorrow.

You are literally, repairing your engagement solution every.single.day.

Stop looking for a solution. Start looking at the process for constantly repairing your engagement system.

Chaos may not be your friend but it is your engagement reality.