We think that understanding the relationships that employees have with their organizations and their work is a very good thing to do, despite the sort of tongue-in-cheek nature of this post. We also genuinely believe that the more engaged employees are, the more productive they will be. And furthermore, we fully believe that engaged employees don’t just benefit their employers, they also have better qualities of life and benefit wider society.
However, despite these beliefs we are slightly tongue-in-cheek about this subject. And the reason is that we think that intention matters. When organizations set out to improve employee engagement so that they can profit from it, it yields different results to when they set out to improve employee experience for the sake of improving the quality of existence for their employees.
Perhaps, fundamentally, we think that there is a fair bit of hypocrisy in this space. Most people, and most large organizations, know how to create engaging working environments and cultures for their teams. The challenge though is doing so in a cost-efficient way that provides strong returns to shareholders. And, often, it is the shareholders (or whoever controls capital) who win these battles, not the employees. As ever, a lot of work in the organizational psychology and engagement space boils down to efforts to get employees to work harder for less reward. And this is perhaps a bit jading.
In no way are we trying to say that employee engagement isn’t a good thing to improve. We’re simply saying that if organizations genuinely want to improve engagement, they can do so. However to do so they need to be genuine in their intentions to do so, and to stop giving with one hand and taking away with the other.