There sure is a lot of stuff out there about “employee engagement” – 72m search results on Google. ‘Employee retention’ throws up around 12m. Search for ‘Employee Firing’ and you get 12m results again! Employee Hiring throws up a whopping 150m pages. Of course, Google search results are hardly the data point one should be looking for to decide employee engagement strategy, but it’s a good indicator of what people are thinking (and writing) about.
Assuming that you have done a good job of hiring your employees in the first place, engaging them is all about what I call ‘Un-firing’ employees – every single day. A chaotic workplace, lack of goal clarity, insensitive supervisors, indifferent senior management, working in silos with little or no idea of what’s happening around, being clueless about the big picture are all things that contribute to disengaging your employees – the equivalent of firing them a bit at a time. Disengagement in a workplace is like slow poison that throttles and chokes the life out of your organization. It starts at the water-cooler as whispers and finally shows up in your annual results in the form of missed targets and dismal financial performance. What follows is well-known. Projects are missed. Plans go awry. Investors get mad. The stock gets hammered because your competition pulls miles ahead of you. And then you pull out the financial-machetes and start ‘rationalizing the workforce’.
It’s a point I make time and again on this blog and in other forums – disengagement is rarely a result of one big bad experience the employee has. That bad experience you see listed as a possible root-cause in the exit interview form is only the straw that breaks the proverbial camel’s back. It’s the daily dose of small experiences at the workplace that add up. A bad or non-existent engagement strategy results in you ‘firing’ your employees every single day they show up for work.
The final act of leaving is just a formality. If you don’t engage your workforce every single day, they would have mentally switched off and fired you ages before they actually leave.
Image used in this post courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net.