Let's Talk About The Great Engagement Debate

Kathy Rapp Communication, Culture, Current Affairs, Employee Communications, Engagement and Satisfaction, Kathy Rapp, Leadership, Television

Big Bird – “Who likes debates?”

Seth Meyers – (looking mildly amused/concerned)

Big Bird – “de-fishes!”

In case you missed it, SNL invited Big Bird to Weekend Update given all the talk about PBS in the first presidential debate.  Did anyone talk about the debate at work last week?  I'm sure whatever your political view, there was enough interest for some level of discussion – or just some bad jokes.

A presidential debate gets people talking.  And regardless of if you understand the two platforms or know enough to talk intelligently about the economy, engaging in conversation about what's going on in the country is invigorating.

Shouldn't this be what it's like when we think about EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT in our workplaces???  Liz Ryan wrote a post in Business Week, “The Employee Engagement Racket” in which she correctly railed on a once-a-year “engagement” survey as this decade's new way to manage people – much like the 360's of the 1980's or the ATS and Performance Management Systems of the 1990's.  She made some broad assumptions about the overall effectiveness of the data of these survey

s, but bottom line she got it right:

“If we value the connection between our employees and their work – we'll ask people what they think more often than in an annual survey.”

Why should HR pros care about employee engagement?  Because your bosses do.  Because your customers/clients do.  Because as an employee yourself, you do.  But an “engaged” employee cares about the how and the why they do their work.  I don't think each and every employee necessarily cares about the overall vision of the organization – although they'll tell you they do on a survey – but they do care about the business doing well.  They also care about what their managers and peers think about the work they do AND……who they are as individuals.

How do we know when we're doing something right or when our manager gives a damn about what's going on in our lives?  Duh – when we talk to each other.  We ask about a project, if someone needs help or how a kid's birthday party went.  Yes, data should be collected to evaluate overall trends in your workplace – but truly evaluating whether or not you have an engaged workforce means you have to talk (and listen) to your employees – a lot.

It's as basic as “Sesame Street”.  Communicate, respect, value, listen, teach, laugh and love.  Now that's an engaged workplace. De-end.

Hit me in the comments!

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Kathy Rapp
Kathy Rapp is the CEO of hrQ where she helps companies find groovy HR Talent for permanent or project roles across the country. Prior to joining hrQ Kathy booked more than 15 years of diverse HR leadership experience working in F500s and start-up organizations. A connoisseur of the intersection between pop culture and business, Kathy believes many talent insights can be gleamed from the succession planning lessons experienced by Van Halen and AC/DC.