I am just back from the HR Technology Conference & Exposition where I sat through quite a few technology demonstrations that focused on improving employee engagement.
Employee engagement is the greatest scam of the 21st century. You should develop a healthy psyche on your own time and dime, and you shouldn’t rely on anyone or anything to make you feel better about life. Your personal happiness is your own responsibility. And get off my lawn.
But as we all know, it is trendy (and cheaper) to think about how to make employees feel happy and fulfilled.
- A satisfied employee doesn’t revolt,
- doesn’t quit,
- and doesn’t unionize.
Those are good things when you work in human resources.
But sometimes HR professionals and technology vendors take things a little too far. Someone told me that it is criminal that a majority of the workforce is disengaged.
And I thought — you know what’s criminal?
- The story of Malala Yousafzai.
- Domestic violence and violence against children.
- Drone strikes.
A disengaged workforce can be considered unfortunate. Work shouldn’t be so awful. But do you know what is really criminal? Financial bailouts. Insurance schemes. Executive bonuses awarded in the wake of financial impropriety.
Can we please prioritize?
Another technology sales executive told me that his founder believes that you should love your employees.
“After all, all you need is love.”
I said, “I’m pretty sure that’s The Beatles.”
But what do I know? Maybe human resources technology can solve for the disillusionment and dissatisfaction in the workforce. And maybe an algorithm can love you.
But what happens when you have a fully engaged workforce but no one is technically on your payroll? What if your engaged employees are jerks with lots of opinions but no business acumen? How do you fire a fully engaged employee who loves your brand but isn’t performing very well?
These are tough questions that have nothing to do with technology. And I’m afraid they have very little to do with love.
If your organization has a strong business plan and a core set of principles and objectives, which includes an empowered human resources department that creates fair compensation plans and oversees reliable and valid performance management processes, I think you will have more than engagement in your organization. You will have revenue and profitability.
And you might actually feel a little love from your workforce.
Laurie Ruettimann is a writer, speaker, and entrepreneur based in Raleigh, NC. She’s working on her next book about fixing work due out in 2020.