Fundamental Confusion: Employee Engagement As Means, Or As Ends

person showing silver-colored engagement ring with gemstone

Confusion About Employee Engagement As Tool Or As Goal

One of the criticisms leveled at the employee engagement movement is that when companies forge ahead at attempting to improve engagement, they forget that employee engagement is not the important goal. It’s only a means to an end, and not the end in and of itself.

In fact, if we spend money on trying to improve employee engagement and do not end up with better business results, we’ve done considerable damage by wasting resources.

Yet companies get so focused on employee engagement that they forget that it’s really not about the value of employee engagement per se as an ends. The value rests only IF and WHEN employee engagement can be translated into business results, and there’s no definitive evidence to support that.

Focus On Employee Engagement Scores Is Wrongheaded And Costly

A related point is that companies are mistaking the SCORES on survey measurements of employee engagement for the real thing. Scores on a survey are completely unimportant in and of themselves. You win nothing by increasing those scores except to feel one is accomplishing something important, when you are not.

That in itself is insidious, because companies are confusing activity with effectiveness, which results in misplaced resources (time, money) that they can not afford to misuse.

To mistake the superficial (employee engagement scores) for the substance (what’s important – business results) is so common in companies, yet they continue to allocate resources to do the superficial, while ignoring direct investments in what counts.

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