Derek Bishop


Employee engagement runs both ways

Date added: 07th May 2015
Category: Employee Engagement

Are your employees aligned with the business strategy? It’s a valid question but perhaps first you should be asking whether your business strategy cares for your employees.

Are all of your employees engaged and aligned with the business strategy?  How would you know if they were or would you simply assume that because they seem happy in their work and the customers like them then they must be fully engaged?

This may come as a shock but happiness doesn’t equate to engagement; nor does having a rapport with customers.  Admittedly, the chances are that if your employees are engaged they are more likely to seem happy at work but just because they seem happy doesn’t mean they are engaged.

Let’s look at two examples.  Both individuals love their work.  They enjoy the camaraderie within their immediate units, and get on well with their immediate co-workers.  Having worked at their jobs for some time they are knowledgeable, and this is reflected in the service which they provide to customers who in turn appreciate the relationship which they have built up with these individuals and through them with the businesses.

Would you call these individuals engaged?  By many outward signs they are, but both these individuals are extremely unhappy about recent events and are looking to move on at the earliest opportunity.  For one, the arrival of a certain individual at the main office has lead to an outbreak of unpleasantness as the new person tries to establish seniority in the business.  Rather than stamping this out the leader has exacerbated the situation, believing the new team member whom they appointed over long serving employees who were appointed by their predecessor.  Adding to the dissatisfaction, shift patterns have been changed arbitrarily with no though for consequent loss of pay.

For the other individual the breaking point has been a change in working patterns which means they now have to stand up all day.  For a number of years they have managed a long standing injury through a mixture of exercises and careful posture.  Having to stand for long periods of time is leaving them in considerable pain but because they have previously self-managed their injury their employer is not willing to compromise on the new arrangements.

Are these individuals engaged or not?  Well perhaps we are asking the wrong question.  Perhaps we should be asking whether the culture of these businesses is such that it values and cares for employees.   Far too often when we talk about organisational culture we think of it in terms of personal qualities such as honesty or friendliness, or of ambitions such as providing game changing customer experiences, creating innovative products and services or delivering long term stability for investors.  It is all too easy to see our employees as deliverers of the culture whilst forgetting that they also are recipients of it.

The individuals mentioned above care so much for their customers that they are continuing to deliver great levels of service whilst they work out their notice periods.  Then they will be gone, moving on to bring their expertise and cheerful personalities to another business which hopefully will better appreciate the qualities which they bring to the organisation.   The businesses which they are leaving behind will be the poorer for their going, as will their customers, as in the long term will be their investors.

Are your employees aligned with the business strategy?  It’s a valid question but perhaps first you should be asking whether your business strategy cares for your employees.

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