Insight article

Employee engagement alert!

I went to see a company the other day where the head of employee engagement completely baffled me.

It became clear after five minutes of talking to him that he saw employee engagement as an activity. Meaning internal comms – newsletters, intranet, briefings, e-mails, conference planning etc etc. Well, he was head of employee engagement so employee engagement was what he did as a job. It was his function. Engaging employees.

Employee engagement is NOT just an activity within one department, I argued. Employee engagement must be seen as an OUTCOME which comes as a result of many different factors in an organisation. Pay, reward, communication, management style, leadership, training and development, the brand – the list goes on and on. And of course culture plays a major part – nurturing a culture of involvement, contribution, making things simple, empowering people, dialogue, encouraging feedback, knowledge-sharing and so on is critical.

And yet more and more organisations are creating titles and departments which carry the responsibility of employee engagement, as if it’s down to a small group of people to make sure it happens. And those people are becoming more and more confused by the plethora of contractors ranging from events companies to artists, branding companies and PR agencies who are all jumping on the employee engagement bandwagon. I seem to remember the same thing happening with the phrase Brand Experience, but that’s another story for another day….

The real responsibility for the engagement of employees of course lies with the Chief Executive. That’s where the buck stops. And below him or her every leader and manager has a responsibility to their teams to ensure that employees are getting the most out of the company – because then they’ll give it back in spades. The remit for ensuring that the right disciplines and interventions are in place usually falls to HR / Communications (oops, sorry, and maybe the Employee Engagement Department) which is fine, but it’s a collective responsibility which needs to be recognised and embedded firmly throughout every pocket of the organisation.

Interesting that this chap I was talking to came from one of the biggest management consultancy firms in the world.

Nailia Tasseel