The Systems of Engagement

William Tincup Audacious Ideas, Change Management, Employee Engagement, Good HR, HR Tech, HR Technology, HR Vendors, William Tincup

Okay, this is a very early stage idea.


*drum roll*

What if employee engagement is somehow tethered to the love/hate relationships employees have with the systems they use for work?

  • Example: Recruiters absolutely love working in the ATS that you’ve provided for them. Love. Like can’t imagine life without said system. Something happens… new boss, business was acquired, ATS gets acquired… whatever… all of a sudden those same engaged/happy/satisfied employees are now NOT engaged. What role did the technology change have in the movement between happy and sad?
  • Example: Payroll clerks despise the system they have to use each and every day. They love the work environment. Love the unlimited PTO. They love access to a bottomless well of Snickers bars and Sun Baked chips. Love their co-workers. They are participatory in the company culture… seemingly happy folks. But, when it comes to the job job, they would rather eat glass than log in to that crappy system again. Oh,and they spend 6ish hours in said system each and every work day. So—are they engaged employees? Could they be more engaged if they LOVED the software you’ve provided for them?
  • Example: Employees get daily “pulse” surveys asking a few questions about how they feel, what they like/don’t like about work, who they love to work with, etc. Employees in general like the surveys, as they don’t take much time… BUT no one ever reports back to them about what is being learned. So, over time, they feel used—like human subjects. They start to #HATE the surveys. The very surveys that were intended to help garner insight about employee engagement are now hated. Would these same employees be MORE engaged if the surveys went away?

I could go on with these pithy examples but you get the point.

First, does a relationship exist between employee engagement AND HR systems used at work? If so, what? If not, why? Bore me with the details… as I am really curious about this.

For me, the “relationship” seems logical, and it passes the common-sense test but no good research on this subject exists in our beloved ecosystem. Anyone have any strong opinions or stories on the subject? Asking for a friend.

Author’s Note: John Sumser is also curious about this subject and it might have been his original idea. Might as in, I really can’t remember who had the idea. *shakes fist at Amsterdam*