Frustrated with not being able to recruit a new engineer, a friend recently asked me if it really was all about fresh fruit, bean bags and pool tables, or the fact that he didn’t have them! He’s in ‘tech’ so my immediate thought was why did a computer nerd think he would be any good at recruiting anyway? But putting stereotypes to one side (because he’s actually quite good at it really) we had a discussion about what he could do differently to encourage new talent to his business. Inevitably, this led us to ‘employee engagement’ and what it really means.
Many devotees describe ‘engaged employees’ as those who are enthusiastic about their work, have a positive attitude towards the business and its values; and are pro-active in promoting its reputation and interests. There are countless people who suggest they can help you achieve this through a single initiative although, in my view, such activities rarely bring about sustainable positive change. There is a danger too that employee engagement has become an end goal in itself rather than a means to an end. It should be an enabler not an outcome.
I’m often asked to explain how to do employee engagement and I have to say it can’t be done – it’s not something that you ‘do’. It is something you achieve through hard work, good leadership, staff involvement etc (and much more). By itself it’s nothing unless it enables companies to achieve their objectives.
So back to the pool table! In the dark ages it was far simpler when employers could expect to get a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay. Now we could be forgiven for believing that it’s all about quirky and generous reward packages, with many employers trying to keep ahead of the competition. I think we know this isn’t true engagement. It may be bribery or extortion – depending on which side of the interview room you sit – it may attract candidates but it’s unlikely to keep them engaged.
My advice is to recruit engaging people as they’re far more likely to understand and sign up to the company’s rules of engagement (even if you do have to entice them with a goody bag).
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