Last year, America’s employers spent almost a billion dollars on employee engagement initiatives.
Josh Bersin of Deloitte said,
“There is scant evidence that the construct, and the practical applications of employee engagement are having any positive effect.”
What is wrong with the construct?
If 87% of the world’s workers are disengaged, the probability of CEOs also being disengaged is pretty high. I propose that the global disengagement problem can only be solved if everyone from the entry level worker to the CEO/owner is dealing directly with engagement.
Engaged CEOs lead their cultures.
One of the central reasons so many engagement programs fail is because the CEO walks into human resources and says, “Fix the engagement problem.” Make no mistake about it, engagement is an emotional state.
Others are so frenzied in dealing with the market and shareholder expectations they believe they can’t add culture to their plate. Regardless of the reason, the results are the same.
A subordinate leads the charge towards engagement. No matter how the initiative is messaged, pack behavior dictates that everyone looks past the shoulder of that individual to the head of the tribe. Usually, they witness a CEO who demonstrates business as usual. In following the queues of the CEO it is only natural for them to think, “Why bother?”
We can make the example even more plausible by equating engagement with change. For every disengaged worker to become engaged requires deep personal change. Invariably, a successful outcome requires new life skills. Fear and discomfort will always be part of the learning process.
Therefore, the person in charge needs to be the first to put his or her feet to the fire and embrace the characteristics of engagement. A few examples include empathy, transparency, interest, praise, building support and giving up any form of righteousness.
If your CEO or business owner isn’t willing to go there save your money.