Why Employee Engagement should NOT be your Goal


Sounds a bit counter-intuitive coming from an Employee Engagement specialist?

Employee engagement has become a new buzzword … If you want to be a respectable organisation, you need to do something about employee engagement. So many articles are written about it daily: How to achieve it, how to measure it, how to maintain it …

The problem with this attitude is that it is too goal-focused. There is always the risk that you focus so much on the future, that you lose track of the present … For example, we spend so much effort outlining what managers should do to nourish employee engagement, that we do not realise we are ‘telling them’ what to do, rather than ‘having a conversation with them’ … which is an employee engagement no-no!

So what should we do?

Employee engagement should not be something you achieve … but something you do!

Targets have their uses, especially if you are (only) measuring employee engagement once a year. The question is: What are you doing between each measurement?


■ How do you communicate about employee engagement?

▣ Do you talk at people about it? … Try discussing it instead, listening to others’ views and objectives, validating as necessary … Do you regularly email out time-consuming articles to read? … Why not summarise them into a single paragraph and outline no more than 5 takeaway messages that people can easily implement?


■ How do you model employee engagement? How do you relate to your team and other managers/teams?

▣ Crucially, how do you relate to people in their absence?

▣ Venting out frustration about people and how they are obtuse cretins (rightly or wrongly!) when they leave the room suggests that employee engagement is simply being nice to your face …
▣ Instead, take a deep breath and focus on how to rephrase your message or the communication style to that even obtuse cretins are converted!


I believe Employee Engagement is what makes the difference between a company that is a collection of individuals who happen to work in the same building, and one which is a team of people sharing the same values and focused on the same end-goal … It is good for the company’s profitability etc … But more than that, I know where I would rather work!

So have a think … How are you doing employee engagement today?

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Dr Sharon Xuereb is an employee engagement specialist and a psychologist. She has developed a 20-item free questionnaire to help you identify your strengths as a manager.

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