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Why is Employee Engagement Still an Issue?

October 24, 2013

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I’ve had a Google alert on employee engagement in operation now for eighteen months and consequently have seen almost 100% of all news, article and blogs captured by Google in that time.

Here’s what I’ve noticed:

  • Everything everyone suggests to deal with employee engagement has been captured in Herzberg’s Dual Theory for about five decades. Even Dan Pink’s great information on motivation was covered by Herzberg.
  • Herzberg is in the HR and MBA curriculum in most tertiary institutions – why doesn’t it get the action it deserves?
  • All the major surveys on employee engagement such as Gallop; BlessingWhite; McKinsey; Deloittes and others are all based around Herzberg yet the detailed implementation never seems to occur.

Here’s what I suggest:

  • All employees need to be educated about the Herzberg Dual Theory.
  • All employees and their leaders at all levels need to agree on the Herzberg elements to be actioned, whilst ensuring sustainable profitability.
  • All leaders need to know how to conduct the conversations and relationships that ensure engagement is no longer an issue. They themselves need to be engaged with their people.
  • The organisation needs to measure itself in regard to all the components of Herzberg, not just the usual financials and related metrics.

We need to stop the focus on engagement and cut to the chase about performance, productivity and innovation – which of course benefits from leadership engagement and employee engagement.

However, employee engagement doesn’t guarantee performance or productivity or innovation. I’ve seen plenty of people happily engaged with their workplace but the wheels are spinning and they don’t seem to notice or care – from the leaders outwards. Some charities suffer from this, where the idea is very emotive and all are passionate, but there is ego, mediocrity and wastage at its core.

The larger the organisation the more likely these issues are present.

There are solutions and they must start with the leadership looking closely in the mirror. After all they are the cause, either through their example, tolerance or ignorance of those causes.

What do you think?

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