Employee Engagement or Involvement?

At some point we shifted the discussion from employee “involvement” to employee “engagement.”  One dictionary defines “involvement” as:

 the act of taking part in an activity, event, or situation

The same dictionary defines “engagement” as:

the feeling of being involved in a particular activity 

Although, I also like the definitions provided for “engage:”

to attract and keep someones interest or attention  or  if a part of a machine engages, or if you engage it, it fits into another part so that they work together

In some ways, the latter engineering definition seems to more clearly express our meaning when we talk about the need to “engage” our employees.  We want employees to do more than “take part,” we want a more tangible effort where the employees fit with one another and work together.  :Engage” seems to suggest a more active and committed role.  certainly this definition applies to our endless quest to get employees “engaged in the safety process.”  While serving on a safety committee is one example of “involving” an employee, this act alone seems less significant than the engagement achieved by assigning several employees to develop a ne Job Safety Analysis (JSA) or strategy to lessen soft tissue or “ergonomic” injuries.  At some point, we earnestly hope that the effort will become self-perpetuating and that the employee will seek involvement in “their company.” Or to put it in the colloquial terms we labor lawyers use, “feel as if they have some skin in the game.”

If we discuss engagement, we have to consider management “leadership.”  I wrestle with whether it is more difficult to obtain this self-driven employee engagement or genuine management leadership, but I do not wrestle with which comes first.  Genuine management leadership is necessary to perpetuate a culture of employee engagement.

I want to share two interesting articles on “engagement” from this week.  First an article by author Kevin Kruse on whether Employees Should Be Responsible For Their Own Engagement.”

Then read the provocative and even better Article by Carol Anderson, “I’m Getting Tired of All of the Talk About Employee Engagement,” which sets out the following premise:

I have come to the conclusion that “engagement” has become one of those buzzwords that has lost its meaning because it is so overused. And I fear that focusing on “engagement” has caused us to lose sight of what is really important – skilled leaders who can move teams forward.

See what you think of these two articles.



Should Employees Be Accountable For Their Own Engagement?

 By Kevin Kruse

Whose job is it to increase engagement?

Whenever I ask that question in a group, answers typically include:

  • The HR department needs to champion engagement.”
  • Engagement needs C-level support.”
  • You have to focus on the front-line managers, make them accountable.”

All good answers.

How people can proactively increase engagement

And yet, what has been missing for decades in the fight to increase employee engagement, are the individual employees themselves. According to IDG Research, 43 percent of engagement comes from intrinsic motivation. This means that despite the best efforts of corporate leadership and front-line managers, all that they do is only half the equation for success. (CONTINUE READING)


I’m Getting Really Tired of All the Talk About Employee Engagement

Recently I came across a sponsored article in Fast Company, titled Happiness Secrets from the Staff of Delivering Happiness at Work.Apparently Zappos’ leadership team has launched a new consulting business on how to achieve Zappos’ fun culture — using fun culture as a measure of engagement.

Who knew? One picture in the article shows three employees with rubber noses. That’d go over well with customers interested in effective growth of their investment portfolio …

Several blog sites that I frequent post myriad articles on employee engagement – from how important it is, to how much additional revenue is generated by engaged employees, to why it is different than satisfaction. And then, there was the “happiness” article.

Has the word “engagement” lost all meaning?

Inc. magazine carried a post, The Dark Side of Employee Engagementin which the authors cite Leadership IQ’s recent study showing that those who were most “engaged” might not be the best performers. They caution the reader to clearly understand the definition of engagement, when embarking on a study to determine engagement levels.

I have come to the conclusion that “engagement” has become one of those buzzwords that has lost its meaning because it is so overused. And I fear that focusing on “engagement” has caused us to lose sight of what is really important – skilled leaders who can move teams forward.  (CONTINUE READING)

About mavity2012

I am a Senior Partner operating out of the Atlanta office of Fisher & Phillips LLP, one of the Nation’s oldest and largest management employment and labor firms. My practice is national and keeps me on the road or in one of our 28 offices about 50 percent of the time. I created and co-chair the Firm's Workplace Safety and Catastrophe Management Practice Group. I have almost 29 years of experience as a labor lawyer, but rely even more heavily on the experience I gained in working in my family's various businesses, and through dealing with practical client issues. Employers tell me that they seldom meet an attorney who delivers on his promise to provide practical guidance and to be a business partner. As a result, some executives probably use different terms than “practical” to describe my fellow travelers in the profession. I don't enjoy the luxury of being impractical because I spend much of my time on shop floors and construction sites dealing with safety, union and related issues which are driven by real world processes and the need to protect and get the most out of one's most important business assets ... its employees. That's one of the reasons that I view safety compliance as a way to also manage problem employees, reduce litigation and develop the type of work environment that makes unions unnecessary. Starting out dealing with union-management challenges and a stint in the NLRB have better equipped me to see the interrelationship of legal and workplace factors. I am proud also of my experience at Fisher & Phillips, where providing “practical advice” is second only to legal excellence among the Firm’s values. Our website lists me as having provided counsel for over 225 occasions of union activity, guided unionized companies, and as having managed approximately 450 OSHA fatality cases in construction and general industry, ranging from dust explosions to building collapses, in virtually every state. I have coordinated complex inspections involving multi-employer sites, corporate-wide compliance, and issues involving criminal referral. As a full labor lawyer, I oversee audits of corporate labor, HR, and safety compliance. I have responded to virtually every type of day-to-day workplace inquiry, and have handled cases before the EEOC, OFCCP, NLRB, and numerous other state and federal agencies. At F & P, all of us seek to spot issues and then rely upon attorneys in the Firm who concentrate on those areas. No tunnel vision. I teach or speak around 50 times per year to business associations, bar and professional groups, and to individual businesses. I serve on safety committees at three states’ AGC Chapters, teach at the AGC ASMTC
This entry was posted in attitude/culture, cultural changes, employee engagement, management and leadership, reducing injuries, safety programs, union organizing, wellness and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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