Is employee engagement a world hunger problem?

Srikanth Murthy

Srikanth Murthy

Director, d'frens

Is employee engagement a world hunger problem? No?

Then why hasn’t employee engagement improved despite the millions of employee engagement consultants helping organizations?

Over the last five years, Employee Engagement has moved from being a buzz word to being one of the key indicators of how well the HR department is functioning. Careers have been made and lost while an army of consultants came armed with plans, strategies, and tools that would help infuse engagement into the employees of organizations big and small.

But, the magic pill dished out hasn’t worked and global surveys are indicating that the employees have a mind of their own! AON-Hewitt’s 2017 survey throws up some interesting numbers – engagement levels in Latin America have risen, but have dropped in APAC. While engagement in India, China, Indonesia, and Japan have dropped, those in Australia and South Korea have risen.

Why?

Does this mean that consultants in LatAm or Australia were doing a far better job than those in China and India? Didn’t the tools, techniques, and strategies for improving engagement work?

And it can’t be a function of the economic climate in these countries since Indian and Chinese economies grew at a pace more than double that of Australia.

The answer seems to be more fundamental – consultants and their tools can only be useful if there is intent. Intent within the organization to bring change. While there are numerous reasons, I’ll list four reasons why intent ends up missing and an Employee Engagement program falls flat on its face!

#1 – Missing executive focus

#2 – Lack of manager buy-in

#3 – No follow through of annual surveys

#4 – No employee engagement strategy

The fourth one is fundamental, yet many organizations do not have a well-articulated employee engagement strategy or an execution plan. An annual employee engagement calendar customized to their employees is still a far-fetched concept for several organizations.

And here’s a bonus one – read the first line of this article again. Do you find anything wrong with it? You don’t? Well you should! Employee Engagement isn’t a measure of how well the HR department is doing, it is a function of how “well” your Human Resources are and hence the organization!

I’ll close by saying that Employee Engagement needs to be a committed strategy created collaboratively by the Executive team, the Management team, the HR team, and the Communications team with the belief that an engaged workforce contributes substantially to the bottom line! Until we do that, the employee engagement will remain a world hunger issue.

In future articles, I’ll write about some of the more basic aspects that most of us sweep under the carpet. And yes, I would love to hear from you on topics that interest you.