Employee Engagement: The Zinger 2020 Vision

Predictions for employee engagement during  the next decade.

David Zinger Employee Engagement Model

20/20 Vision? What do you see as the future of employee engagement over the next 10 years? How will this concept and approach to work change during this decade? It would be nice to have 20/20 vision but the future is  murky at best. It is a risky thing to try and predict the future but I will suggest a few of the changes I believe will occur in the next 10 years. Of course,  I am biased and these are predictions I want to see occur. I encourage you to write your predictions in the comment section at the end of this post.

Sociometers and wockets will trump surveys. Surveys are  too anemic to measure and communicate  engagement. Long surveys or once a year surveys will become the dinosaurs of engagement measurement. Yes measurement is important and necessary but doing a survey once a year just does not cut it. We will see real time micro surveys based on portable technology, GPS systems, etc. To get a glimpse of the future of human real time measurement see sociometers and wockets.

Data will become more open and more linked. It will become important for data to become more transparent and open. I expect organizations will be less guarded, especially with their own employees. Employees should be the owners of the data they offer and be partners in assessing the results. To get a glimpse of the future of data (including employee engagement data) see Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the world wide web,  TED talk on the next WEB – linked data. By the way, I love how at this site you can click on the interactive transcript, scan the transcript, click on any phrase and the video will play from that point on!

Engagement will move beyond a fad.  I expect engagement will vastly mature beyond happy dances in workplaces and Christmas party feel good exercises to specific behavioral actions that are of benefit to employees, organizations, and customers. We must always ask ourselves — engagement in what? Engagement in work, relationships, customer service, results, organization, etc? I believe the cynics would say employee engagement is a fad that will go away within a couple more years. I believe employee engagement is here to stay but will go through criticism, revision, refinement, and  change over the next 10 years. We are seeing the word engagement attached to social media, student engagement, and many other phenomenon.

Enterprise 2.0 or Social Business Software will accelerate engagement. The use of social media within organizations and porous to external social media outside organizations will present new opportunities and challenges. The first task for many organizations will be to fully engage staff in this media and then to ensure these tools are used to enhance both engagement and results. Internal social media must be an engagement gain for the organization not an engagement drain.

Engagement will become more real and authentic. Employee engagement needs to be more robust, real, authentic, and honest. Trust is a must or employee engagement will be a bust. We have ways to assess authenticity and people’s social intelligence allows them to  see through phony in about an 18th of second.

Engagement will detach from a narrow focus on the role of employee. Employee engagement will need to detach the engagement part of employee engagement to more specific engagement. We will need to be more specific with such terms as work engagement, organizational engagement, community engagement, project engagement, , etc. Employee engagement is too narrowly attached to a role and can easily create an us/them experience in organizations with managers/leaders seeing themselves removed from employees. My preferred term would be work engagement but I am open to see how this changes.

We will witness stronger independent research on employee engagement. This is vital and important. Hopefully Dilbert will not have just one cartoon lampooning engagement but Scott Adams will run a series over a week or two. Academics and universities can make great contributions to the field with their objective, scientific, and independent research. Consulting companies have too much of a vested interest in specific results to place our faith in their research. We need more controlled studies with experimental groups. Although employee engagement is not a fad there has been too much hype making it seem like a magic management panacea — rather than a key vital tool and approach to work. As a side note I would love to see best companies or employers not identified by consulting companies with vested interests in selling services to the companies they identify.

The search for the single holy grail definition of employee engagement will be abandoned in favor of stronger behavioral and operational definitions of the term. Let’s drop the hope or search for one single definition of employee engagement. The MacLeod report found over 50 different definitions of engagement. Many writers seem to hunger for a common definition. I am not sure how important this is, and there are benefits to diverse definitions in the early years of this approach to work. I think we need more operational definitions of engagement so we know specifically how people are defining it rather than all of us defining it in the same way. For example, what is the specific score and questions that determines if an employee is placed in an engaged or disengaged category? We don’t all need to agree but we do need to understand fully how the term is being used. We still have not agreed on a common definition of love and love has been around a  lot longer than employee engagement.

Engagement will be woven into the fabric of management and tapestry of leadership. This decade will witness both a broadening and a deepening of engagement. Engagement will become the new term used for management or leadership. Engagement and conversation will not be leadership or management skills they will be leadership and management. Engagement is the logical successor to command and control. Henry Mintzberg made an excellent case for lessening our focus on leadership and suggested we should focus on “communityship.”

Engagement levels will increase. People are focusing on it, organizations are measuring it, managers are addressing it, unions are assessing it, individuals are enacting it. This is not so much a prediction as it is my full intention and application to play a vital role in the increase of employee engagement worldwide for the benefit of all: employee, organization, managers/leaders (who are also employees), customers, and all other stakeholders who have a role in work including the families of employees.

Engage along with me, the best is yet to be, let’s see not only where we end up in 10 years — let’s fully engage in our work to make it happen.

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David Zinger, M.Ed., is an employee engagement writer, educator, speaker, coach, and consultant. He offers exceptional contributions on employee engagement for leaders, managers, and employees. David founded and moderates the 2100 member Employee Engagement Network. His website offers 1000 posts/articles relating to employee engagement and strength based leadership. David is also very involved in the application of Enterprise 2.0 approaches to engagement and the precursor,  engagement approaches to Enterprise 2.0.

Book David for education, speaking, and coaching on engagement today for 2010.

Email: [email protected]  Phone 204 254 2130  Website: www.davidzinger.com

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