5 Things More Important than Employee Engagement

Define “employee engagement.” Don’t worry if you’re having trouble, because I haven’t found a definition either. In fact, researchers don’t even agree on what employee engagement is. I tend to think of it as being related to a willingness to put in discretionary effort and attention over and above doing the job, but that’s an informal definition. I’ve watched as hundreds, if not thousands of companies have paid unbelievable amounts of money to get consulting for a construct that scientists can’t even define (and those who bring me on for “employee engagement” quickly find that I drill down to different terms!). That said, even if you just picked a definition of engagement and went with it, and actually tried to implement that in your company, you might discover that the initiative totally fails (I get brought in to clean up those messes every now and then), and the reason is that your company is lacking the infrastructure that enables employees to do and be their best. Without it, any engagement initiative you take is going to be money down the drain.

Here are five things to work on that are far more important than employee engagement:

1) Knowing how to manage

2) Incentives that inhibit teamwork

3) Inflexible or stupid policies

4) Unnecessarily limited control over work

5) Lack of job clarity

Ultimately, if you want to get good work out of your employees, you need to make sure that the company has an infrastructure that enables them to know what they are doing, know why they are doing it, rewards them for doing it, and gives them as much control as possible over how, when, and where they do it. In many cases, employee engagement will follow right behind those factors, however you define it. But, without the five factors above, employee engagement initiatives will do as much as shocking a cold corpse. Instead, make sure you have good management, aligned incentives, clear vision, and employee job control. Add some good hiring practices, and the sky’s the limit.

--

--

Self-actualization engineer who makes workplaces great places to work. PI at Quality of Life Lab (www.qllab.org). Consultant. Professor. Startup Advisor.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Orin Davis

Self-actualization engineer who makes workplaces great places to work. PI at Quality of Life Lab (www.qllab.org). Consultant. Professor. Startup Advisor.