Employee Engagement is Not Fun!
Convincing skeptical senior executives that investments in employee engagement pay off is still harder than it should be, even with the mounting pile of evidence that the ROI is real and powerful.
Here is my latest take on the foundational value you derive from investing in employee engagement:
It raises productivity by reducing interpersonal friction in the workplace.
The best employee engagement initiatives focus on the team. The goal is to eliminate impediments to working better together. Once those barriers to collaboration are reduced or removed, the team will start to solve its own problems, because they want to remove barriers to their own success.
How frustrating is it to hear senior executives continuing to hold the mindset that employee engagement is touchy-feely, soft and “nice to have.” It is none of those things. On the contrary: It can be hard, nitty gritty work that often involves facing interpersonal conflict directly, and having difficult conversations about the issues that cause the conflicts and how to resolve them.
In addition, “just do your job” and “a full day’s work for a full day’s pay” mindsets put a lot of responsibility on the employee to make decisions in a vacuum that end up wasting a lot of time:
- People work at cross-purposes because they don’t understand how their roles fit in with, and support, the work of others.
- People duplicate work because they don’t understand how to access available resources in other parts of the organization.
- People get frustrated because they don’t understand why other people act the way they do, and are unaware of the impact their own behavior has on the quality of their working relationships.
All this increases interpersonal conflict, which is the main drag on engagement and productivity. Employee engagement is the path to resolving these conflicts and getting all team members working together and energetically moving in the same direction.
Senior executives who have successfully built up strong working relationships with their peers and bosses over the years fail to see how others are not internally driven as much as they are.
And finally, disengaged people work less hard. This is the most difficult element of human development that senior executives don’t get, because most of them are good at self-motivation. It flummoxes them that a person might need to hear how much their work is appreciated before they work harder.
The value of employee engagement is not making people happier at work. It is reducing all the frictions that make them unhappy at work. You raise productivity by engaging the employees in the process of spotting and eliminating the frictions that make work less productive.