A recent article on Forbes caught my eye because the headline said “The Real Reason to Care About Employee Engagement.”

I always love to jump into posts that start with either “the secret to” or “the top three things to do to drive engagement” or “the only thing you need to worry about to drive engagement” because frankly, most of the time it is a garbage post. This one was no different.

The entire post is short but here’s some of the operative quotes that really got my goat…

“… from a management perspective, there’s no need to care about sensitivity. But employee engagement ultimately isn’t about sensitivity. It’s about productivity.”

Later on in the article the author goes on to say…

“…in short employee engagement is it just some intangible HR concept; it has a very tangible productivity connection.”

And even further into the article the author says…

“…from a management perspective for fictional CEO at the beginning of this post, there’s only one reason to care-to – a great deal – about having engaged employees. They work hard.”

As an employee, if I was ever privy to that conversation between a consultant and a CEO or the head of HR and the CEO, I would IMMEDIATELY get my resume up-to-date. I would IMMEDIATELY contact every known recruiter in my network.

If I knew the biggest reason my company cared about employee engagement was to drive greater productivity then I would also know they see me as just another resource to maximize. I’m no different than a factory-floor robot to be tweaked and tuned to get maximum throughput for minimum input.

If you’re a CEO or an HR person, or even if you’re simply a manager, please take note. Employee engagement is not a productivity play. Employee engagement is not an efficiency play. Employee engagement is effectiveness play and it’s a human play. First and foremost is engagement focuses on the employee and not the balance sheet.

If you’re responsible for employee engagement I beg of you look at it through the lens of the employee and not the CFO.

child farm

If you’re looking at employee engagement is a productivity play you are no different than middle-aged families who had children simply to work the fields. Children were labor first, family second.

Employees are humans first, resources second.

I would hope were more evolved than that today