Let's get engaged.
The debate over engagement continues now having polarized into two equally useless camps.
On one hand some argue almost moralistically engagement is a right so employers must therefore find ancillary ways to enroll the workforce. Employers don't like to be told what they must do.
Others spout that a job is a job and engagement a non-issue developed by consultants to sell books and make speeches, and in reaction refuse to entertain the thought.
Let's talk some HR shop and drop all the pretense.
What's the Return?
All commerce is a variation of return on investment. In labor costs jobs have certain pay bands and including the added costs of benefits and taxes, its pretty straightforward: Job A costs “x”.
As labor costs are somewhat constant per job – unlike material, energy, shipping, et al – the ROI is easy to calculate.
Its not morality owners respond to – businesses are theoretically amoral (not immoral boys and girls) – its the fundamental math of return.
What are we getting back for the expense? This is where the engagement debate needs to go.
You can get a greater return on the same expense via engagement.
Let's be clear.
Engagement is good for everyone
Engaged employees deliver better service, at higher quality with faster turnaround. If you really believe disengaged workers are better for your business you may stop reading now.
But some of those shouting from the rooftops have gotten so impassioned about the edges of the debate they're confusing the rest of us.
Its not a question of If but How?
Here are the basic steps to drive engagement in your business.
- Focus Wins – Get clear on the goals and the priorities. If you're not clear on what counts and what the priorities are no one else will be. Get relentlessly clear and stay maniacally constant and people will get it, breathe it and live it
- Expect Excellence – Refuse mediocrity. Don't accept half-baked half-assed support, service and staff to corrupt your business. Display and demand excellence and a funny thing happens: people rise to their level of expectation. No one is enthused about working for an average firm – don't be one
- Can We Talk? – Hire managers who talk with people. Don't want crappy employees? Don't tolerate crappy managers. Get people who talk with (not to) and listen to employees. People who care about others don't have to be trained how to
- Lower the Water – Ruthlessly expose problems. Reacting to every issue that arises will ensure issues stop coming up. They'll still occur they just won't be surfaced. Want to fix problems? Make it okay – no, make it expected – for people to raise them and then systemically fix them
- Care about Customers – Behave like you care. All the time. Treat customers exceptionally and two remarkable things happen. Coworkers treat each other that way since we're all customers of each other, and, constant behavior becomes habit. Caring about others doesn't know boundaries
Stop participating in the sham debate about whether or not engagement matters. Its ludicrous to even entertain the suggestion so don't waste any more time on it.
If you care about your business you'll care about the people conducting it and that will be evident to them, vendors and customers.
If the phrase engaged employees turns you off replace it with its synonym: good business.