Reflecting on a recent post by Kevin Keohane, I’ve been asking myself the question…
When there’s so much evidence out there about the links between engagement and superior business performance (perhaps most famously embodied in the principles of the Service Profit Chain), how is it that there’s still such a massive capability gap in so many organisations?
I’m starting to wonder if the problem lies with the term engagement itself.
It gets bandied about with such gay abandon by so many people that it’s rather lost its meaning. Even among skilled professionals there are different interpretations as to what it is – is it a process (the alignment of personal and corporate ambitions, for example) or is it simply a state of mind?
Either way, what it emphatically isn’t is an end in itself. It may sound like an oxymoron, but the ultimate purpose of engagement is not to engage people. What matters is what that engaged state actually delivers – greater discretionary effort and an improvement in business performance.
Much as I’ve argued in relation to diversity, engagement is the delivery mechanism, not the outcome. Going back to the question, I suspect this is a big part of the problem, leading to assumptions and prejudgements by some that its all about process and “soft” stuff, and closing their minds to evidence of the hard business benefits.
As I’ve also argued in relation to CR, maybe it’s time to make these links much more explicit through the language that we use – toning down talk of soft principles and turning up the volume on the financial benefits to be derived from doing these things properly.
We already talk of the Employee Value Proposition (EVP) in relation to employer branding, so why not Employee Value Creation as an alternative to engagement?
Let’s face it, that’s what it’s really about: value creation, both by and for employees.