Let’s address what was one of the most overused buzzwords of 2014, at least in the management spectrum—employee engagement. Surely the idea isn’t as novel in itself as you’d think, but somehow this year, employers found themselves reevaluating the tools through which the concept was exercised. Which makes us wonder… is employee engagement really what they think it is? Can it really be measured, contained and rectified? And will 2015 be the year this concept is truly revitalized?
Here are some stats that Huffington Post have found:
Perhaps the reason why the majority still remains disengaged at work is because the concept is alienated from the very premise in which it exists—the job market, and the organizational culture itself.
Money vs. Engagement
The recession hasn’t been too kind on anyone. It was especially chaotic for the job market because people settled for anything as long as there was employment. Didn’t matter if the liked the job or the company or even the industry so long as it came with a paycheck. And that’s where the problem lies. The recession, and the subsequent switch up of the job market has boiled down the many different elements of engagement (self-fulfillment, innovation, room for personal growth) to one: money.
The Personal/Professional Paradox
At home, we are liberty to do the things that please and interest us. We can create things we want, eat when we want to, take a break when we please, get a change in scenery when we’re feeling uninspired. But work is a little more constricting. We’re expected to abide by rules that determine where we sit, eat or take a break. We’re given specific targets that need to be achieved regardless of whether we’re inspired enough to do so.
We’re the same people living two different lives that are expected to be mutually exclusive. One seems more fulfilling, liberating and creative. The other binding, monotonous and dull. Employee engagement as an HR tactic seems ineffective when you consider this. Because as long as work/life is treated like a dichotomy, employees won’t be engaged no matter where they are working.
Employee Engagement in 2015
No amount of foosball tables, bean bags, coffee or free lunches are going to ensure employee engagement. Moving forward in 2015, we’re going to have to switch the very premise in which this concept exists—the organizational culture. As long as it remains unresponsive to changes in the way we live, interact and grow, these employee engagement tools may as well be made for machines. Foosball tables and free lunches may stimulate engagement, but it needs to come from within. And that will happen only when organizations start adapting to their employees life, not just the other way round.