Employee Engagement: Theory vs. Practice

by Jude Carter

All this talk about employee engagement doesn’t seem to be doing much to improve it. In fact, engagement levels are at an all-time low. I recently read an article by Dov Seidman on “Why We Can’t ‘Motivate’ Engagement”. His premise is that engagement is not an end goal, rather a condition “manifested by the inspiration an employee unleashes in his or her work…”

What does that really mean? If companies are out there searching for solutions to “improve employee engagement” they’re barking up the wrong tree. Engagement is a byproduct of how effectively we enlist our employees to embrace specific workplace initiatives.

For decades Marlin has been helping companies improve workplace communication. One of the main ways that companies find us is through our website. If you were to examine the keywords that bring the most traffic to our site, “employee engagement” is not even near the top of the list.

Instead, you’d find more specific terms such as safety awareness, continuous improvement, customer satisfaction and employee morale. Often these companies have major campaigns or change initiatives around a specific goal like reducing accidents, improving quality, retaining customers and improving employee satisfaction. They’re looking for ways to improve workplace communication and employee recognition within the context of those campaigns.

If we spent more time developing clear objectives, making sure everyone understands how they are involved, communicating progress and results, and recognizing people for their contributions, surely we’d have a more engaged workforce.

Jude Carter
August 20, 2010

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