Employee engagement—which studies show is a critical success factor for businesses—is evolving as demographics, societal priorities, and technologies change. So does the word still fit today’s businesses or have we moved beyond engagement to something more?
Is Employee Engagement Passe?
In a Forbes article, “It’s Time To Rethink The ‘Employee Engagement’ Issue,” Josh Bersin, founder of Bersin by Deloitte, cites his firm’s 2014 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends research, which shows 78% of business leaders rate retention and engagement urgent or important.
“When I talk with HR leaders they talk consistently about retention issues, they carefully watch their Glassdoor ratings, and businesses all over the world are trying to build an inclusive, passionate, multi-generational team,” he writes. “In fact, I believe the issue of ‘engaging people well’ is becoming one of the biggest competitive differentiators in business.”
He suggests using the word engagement limits our thinking.
“It assumes that our job is to reach out and engage people, rather than to build an organization that is exciting, fulfilling, meaningful, and fun.”
Bersin posits potential changes:
“We may need to change the way we manage people (end appraisals?), change the work environment (open offices? nap rooms? ping-pong tables?), and change who we hire (are we hiring the right people for our mission, culture and values? Are we assessing well?). All these things tend to go well beyond the typical engagement survey.
Financial institutions today tell us that they are having a harder time recruiting people because they are no longer “cool” places to work. This isn’t a traditional problem of engagement, it’s one of identity, mission, and culture.”