Welcome to this month’s Link Letter.
We don’t often get hot under the collar here at Engage, but one of this month’s articles has, it seems, caused some fierce debate in the world of engagement. The HBR blog, “The Dark Side of High Employee Engagement” is the culprit here. It argues that very high engagement can be damaging to business outcomes. However, as we have said in our commentary on the piece (see the HBR website), the whole article is flawed based on its definition of engagement. Engagement is simply not about happiness. It is about how engaged people are with what you are trying to achieve as a business.
The issue with engagement is that survey firms try to create a single, off-the-shelf definition of it for all organisations. In our view, this is madness! Each firm needs to consider how it wants to define (and therefore strive towards) engagement for their own organisation and in their own context. Companies should start with their strategic business objectives (what are they trying to achieve?). They then need to define what engagement needs to look like to help achieve those objectives. Finally, they need to assess what practical drivers of engagement will get them there. In the scenarios mentioned in the article, for example, firms might define it as: "Are our people engaged with being innovative?" or "Are our employees engaged with driving growth?".
If you define it correctly for your own business context and measure the right things, then you can leverage engagement to the ends that the company needs. A bland "one size fits all" definition and measurement system is the problem here.
We hope you enjoy this month’s reads.
Dr Andy Brown, CEO, ENGAGE
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