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Employee Engagement is Trash

It’s time to trash employee engagement!

Or at least it’s time to throw away all the refuse we’ve piled around it.

For the past decade the term employee engagement has come to mean EVERYTHING and eventually came to mean NOTHING in the business world.

Employee engagement originally started as a way to get our employees to care, to work harder, to be a team player, and to creating some sense of loyalty to our organizations. People latched onto it like a life preserver in choppy waters. While the underlying ideas were not new, the term felt fresh and exciting. Because of that excitement, it drew all the scavengers, opportunist, and exploiters to the party. Very quickly the true essence of the term was lost and replaced by a sense of cliche. Like a cheap piece of jewelry, the term was over used, lost it’s luster, and has been pushed to back of some obscure drawer. What happened?

When EE was still tantalizing we developed programs around it, we built templates, administered surveys, and even made employee engagement part of HR’s KPIs.

And there’s the problem. We threw it on HR’s plate.

Without a second thought,  managers and executives took something critical to an organization’s success and tossed it over the fence to people that already had too much on their plates. But we can’t blame leadership for giving it to HR! After all, Human Resource professionals are gung-ho for new initiatives. They are often optimistic and idealistic when it comes to making team members happier. However, it is not the responsibility of human resources, personnel, talent management, or whatever new moniker we give them. They have a lot of responsibilities, but most organizations have failed to give them the authority to actually cultivate sustained employee engagement initiatives. Why would we give something so important to a part of our organization that doesn’t wield authority?

Because we allowed employee engagement to be an accessory to our business, it had been over homogenized, over used, and yet somehow still under appreciated.

“HR” as a department should not be responsible for employee engagement or company culture.

It is the responsibility of every single leader, executive, manager, and employee.

So, who owns employee engagement? EVERYONE

However, until executive teams take a stance and make it a personal mission, organizations will continue to flounder with team members that are disengaged and complacent.

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