Employee Engagement – a mighty buzz phrase in the HR lexicon. But hold on a minute…
I haven’t heard of it
I saw some really interesting research data at the CIPD conference earlier this month, published by Surveylab. Their 2013 workplace survey involved over 1,000 people across the world of work, and four out of five had not heard of the term, employee engagement.
I can’t describe it
Are you surprised? I was a little, though when you consider that even Nita Clarke, who with David MacLeod co founded Engage for Success, struggled to explain what employee engagement is to the Queen when accepting her OBE for ‘services to employee engagement and business’ recently, maybe I need to reset my expectations.
I was taking part in the online #nextchat which is run each week by SHRM over in the USA. This week questions were being discussed relating to disengagement and for the mega keen among you – there’s a storify of the chat here. This exchange between Matt Charney and TeamBonding caught my eye:
The chat ebbed and flowed between encouragement and disbelief, and many points in between. What was key to me was how other things like Matt’s comment, and talk of trust, respect and feeling valued landed much more helpfully for people.
Surveylab also asked people to respond to the statement ‘I feel valued for what I do’. Whilst feeling valued is also subjective, I nevertheless think this is a much more interesting, powerful and accessible thing to ponder. It implies belonging, whereas the term employee engagement can feel divisive, us and them, to some people. In the survey results, 49% agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, and of those people, 90% were overall, satisfied with their employer, 88% enjoyed coming to work, and 93% tried to contribute more than expected of them. By comparison, the figures for those who did not feel valued are 11%, 14% and 72% respectively.
Trust and Respect
Here’s what Surveylab found out when they asked people about trust, respect and fairness too.
Once again, unsurprisingly, those who felt favourable about these important things also registered much higher satisfaction, enjoyment and willingness to contribute. I expect most of us can agree that making work better is important, and there clearly is a camp of employee engagement enthusiasts who think there way is the right way. But you have to ask yourself, if 80% of the workforce have never even heard of the term – isn’t it time to find a better way?
I’ve asked and been given permission to use some of the Surveylab data – I have no commercial interest in the Surveylab business and I’m not being paid to share this stuff. I just think the results of their survey are interesting, helpful and a lot more accessible than the nebulous world of employee engagement. If you are interested, the Surveylab blog will have more news as they unpack the learning from this 2013 survey.