Engagement Is an Ongoing Commitment, Not an Event

Recognize This! – Lack of commitment to ongoing engagement can result in an increase in disengagement.

In the employee engagement effort, one comment that never fails to give me pause is: “We have our employee engagement event scheduled for next Friday.” This could also be phrased, “Don’t forget to attend our Engagement Pizza Party!”

Working to create an environment in which employees choose to engage more deeply (thereby increasing productivity and performance) is much more than an event. It’s a commitment to changing the very culture of your organization.

Indeed, treating employee engagement as an event can disengage employees  as shown in recent research conducted by Wayne Hochwarter, the Jim Moran Professor of Business Administration in the Florida State University College of Business.

“Engaged employees can quickly become disengaged if they feel taken advantage of — and a formerly engaged employee can do more harm to the company than one who was never engaged to begin with. …

“Hochwarter’s findings clearly illustrate that engaged workers, without needed company support and other resources, can begin to exhibit a number of undesirable attitudes and behaviors.

• a decline in helping behavior (50 percent lower);
• increased anger at supervisors (35 percent higher);
• a view that expectations are beyond one’s capabilities (33 percent higher);
• additional stress (30 percent higher); and
• lower overall productivity (25 percent lower).”

One powerful way to create an ongoing, engaging culture is through social recognition. In fact, People Management magazine recently suggested one of the best ways to engage Gen Y is through social media. Though the article is speaking to social media in an external sense, there is just as much power – if not more – to be gained through using the inherent social elements in an internal social program built around frequent, timely positive feedback and praise.

Does your organization focus on engagement events or creating a culture of engagement? What’s the impact you see?

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