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Darkside Of Employee Engagement

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Diverting Scarce Resources To Employee Engagment A Huge Mistake For Companies

by Robert Bacal

Since companies have completely failed to improve employee engagement scores over ten+ years of trying, we need to consider whether continuing to divert scarce organizational resources in an attempt to increase employee engagement with the hope of creating better business results, is in fact, damaging to companies, and their employees.

Scarce Company Resources Need To Be Allocated To Things That DIRECTLY Increase Productivity

It seems like a no-brainer once you think about it. With employee engagement initiatives, companies use up scarce resources (money, time, primarily) to try to increase productivity INDIRECTLY. Here's the "chain" or assumed relationship that companies act upon when trying to improve employee engagement.

Company actions ---> Improved Employee Engagement -->Better Productivity -->Better Business Results

This causal chain is far from proved to be true, and typically companies spend money on company actions, like training managers, and changing procedures, and MEASURING EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT, and almost never look at what is really important to the company -- productivity and business results. Measuring employee engagement, since it does nothing to directly improve it, is overhead - a straight out cost without benefit UNLESS somehow business results get created.

Dropping Employee Engagement Efforts AND Focusing On Productivity And Business Results

Given money and time are so precious and scarce, doesn't it make sense to simplify the "value chain" above? So we get a more streamlined company approach which maximizes those precious resources? This is what it looks like, and this is how companies need to be spending their scarce resources.

Company Actions --> Better Productivity --> Better Business Results

As you can see, we drop out the entire employee engagement portion, to focus on what COUNTS. By doing that we remove the "overhead" costs of measuring employee engagement, but more importantly, we also take out of the equation all of the meetings, time, strategizing and so on that's involved with employee engagement attempts.

Let's translate that. Later on, when we look at what ACTIONABLE INFORMATION we get from employee engagement surveys, we'll talk about how employee engagement has added NOTHING to informing us about what actions we should take to improve business results. For now, here's an example.

We know from our understanding of employee motivation that recognition is an important aspect of encouraging employees to expend more effort on the job. That's also one of the "Gallup 12" factors that is linked to higher employee engagement.

We have two paths. We can continue to invest in employee engagement, with the idea that we will eventually alter how we recognize employee contributions, OR, we can INVEST DIRECTLY in steps to improve how our company recognizes those achievements.

Which makes more sense? Steps that may indirectly have an impact, and have overhead costs (measuring EE) or taking the resources away from EE efforts, and spending them DIRECTLY on ways to recognize employee achievements?

It's A Business No Brainer: Invest In Things DIRECTLY

Investment in EE is really no investment at all, and it's an indirect path to the goals we need to achieve -- better productivity and improved business results. It's far better to invest more directly in the things that count, so as to cut the unnecessary expenditures of money, and most importantly, time associated with EE.

We have two paths. We can continue to invest in employee engagement, with the idea that we will eventually alter how we recognize employee contributions, OR, we can INVEST DIRECTLY in steps to improve how our company recognizes those achievements.

About Company

Bacal & Associates was founded in 1992. Since then Robert has trained thousands of employees to deal with angry, hostile, abusive and potentially violent customers. He has authored over 20 books on various subjects, many published by McGraw-Hill.


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