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Two Things We Often Lose Sight of in Our Quest for Engagement

Two Things We Often Lose Sight of in Our Quest for EngagementThere’s no disputing the high value of engaged employees. Organizations that enjoy high levels of engagement also enjoy a litany of other benefits – happier, more engaged customers, better attendance and safety records, fewer health claims, higher productivity with less effort, less friction and less waste, and stronger financial performance are among those most commonly cited.

No wonder there’s been so much noise about ‘engagement’ over the last two decades… there’s an awful lot riding on getting it right.

And yet, many organizations seem to miss the point.

I see too many elaborate programs aimed at trying to convince/encourage/cajole/plead/entice/trick employees to be more engaged. Boatloads of money spent on peer recognition programs, better benefits, in-house concierge services… you name it, all in the hopes that employees will be more committed.

Here’s the dirty little secret none of the companies that provide all those amenities will tell you: frills don’t contribute to engagement. You can’t buy people’s hearts with trinkets, at least not for long.

Engagement exists in a conversation, in a relationship. It’s the quality of those conversations and those relationships an employee has – with their manager, their work, the people they spend their workday with, and with the company – that will determine how committed they are, how engaged they feel.

With that in mind, let me present the two things that are most often overlooked when an organization sets an objective of strengthening their engagement scores:

1. Stop trying to engage the unengageable.

Stop trying to engage the unengageable.Some people do a perfectly good job and don’t need to feel jazzed about it all day. It’s a transactional relationship that meets your needs and theirs. Give them what they need but leave them alone.

Some people were engaged, once, and something changed. Invest in a conversation to find out what’s missing and what it would take to help them re-engage. Sometimes a special assignment or a small shift in their work focus can make a big difference.

But for goodness sake, don’t waste time, money, and energy trying to force fit. Some people are just not right for the job, and no amount of working at it is going to change that fact. As in any relationship, ‘compatibility’ is hard to fake.

So. If you’ve got otherwise good people who are ‘misfits’ by virtue of finding themselves in the wrong roles, reporting to the wrong manager, or working with the wrong teams, then a simple diagnostic might help you identify and fix what’s misaligned.

And, to make sure you are hiring people who have a higher likelihood of being “engageable” in the reality that’s waiting for them there, the right candidate assessment tool can save you a lot of time and money.

2. Your people won’t be engaged, if your managers aren’t engaging.

If you accept that ‘engagement’ is a state that exists in a conversation and in a relationship (as previously stated), then it follows that managers need to be conversing and relating in a way that builds commitment.

That’s a tall order, in today’s day and age where most managers are ‘working managers’ with an inbox overflowing with projects, tasks, forecasts, meeting notices… we seem to have starved them of the time and the resources to have anything but the most transactional, cursory conversations with the most expensive asset we entrust to them: their people.

And, all too often, we have promoted into these management roles, people who were ‘the best ____’ (whatever their previous job was), without much thought given to whether they had the natural make-up to be ‘engaging leaders’.

You’ll be amazed how much easier life is, when you have the right people, in the right jobs.


Curious to know which managers (or folks you are hoping to groom) in your organization have the traits and the natural inclination to be Engaging Leaders? Take a look at this free offer.

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Written by Jan van der Hoop

Jan van der Hoop

This article was written by Jan van der Hoop, President, Fit First Technologies. Jan can be reached via e-mail at [email protected]

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