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Stop feeding people bananas

Stop feeding people bananas

Engagement matters and, if anything, it’s more important now than ever.

The recent government mental health review ‘Thriving at Work’ highlighted that:

  • 300,000 people with a long term mental health problem lose their jobs each year
  • 15% of people at work have symptoms of an existing mental health condition
  • And that the cost to UK employers is between £33- £42 billion

The review also advised that to combat this employers should:

  • “encourage open conversation”

and

  • “promote effective people management, with line managers holding regular conversations with their staff”

In another recent study on the demands of ‘millennials’ from their workplace found that:

  • 88% wanted a social workplace

and

  • 71% wanted to be able to describe their co-workers as a second family

These two reports, and many more paint a similar picture highlighting the importance, benefits and the need for a workplace and its managers to make ‘connections’ with the people they employ and manage. The importance of doing all they can to make, retain, develop and sustain ‘connection’ in the workplace.They’re highlighting the need to ‘engage’, build relationships and do whatever you can to make this happen, because it matters. it matters to people’s health, it matters to the organisation’s pockets, it matters to everyone, and that includes the people your business employees and the customers it serves.

If you’ve read any of my other blogs it will come as no surprise to hear me say, or rather shout ’OF COURSE IT DOES!!!!!!’ as at Loving Monday we’ve been banging this gong for a long time. But even the loudest gong can get lost in the middle of an orchestra.

The ‘Orchestra’ has been progressively turning up the volume and adding to its ranks for a long time now and it’s been making this voice of reason a little hard to hear.

A recent American study highlighted that:

  • £270 million is spent annually on engagement strategies in the US
  • Yet still only 63 percent of the US workforce was fully engaged
  • The same figure as in the year 2000…

So, what’s going wrong? Where’s all the money going?

The answer is, we’re not hearing the individual instruments any more, we’re not listening to the talents of the individual, we’re just listening to the noise.

As far as many organisations efforts to engage are concerned, this ‘noise’ is drowning out an organisation’s ability to recognise the need for engagement, connection and meaning. Many are, with the best intentions, simply doing the wrong things and won’t ever achieve the goals they’ve set themselves to engage their people.

The reason for this are many but here’s a few examples of good intentions not achieving good results:

  • Looking for the easy, measurable, fast route to developing engagement…
  • Gathering data, with increasing frequency and then not developing the management capacity to use it how they should
  • When small groups of people are gathering data from large groups of people and then using it behind closed doors…

This is then compounded by the good old management strategy of throwing money at it, and doing things like redeveloping the office layout, introducing new corporate benefits packages, creating all manner of comms tools, and my personal favourite, putting fruit on any available flat surface so someone can say they have a ‘well-being’ programme.

All these things have their place but don’t blame the measurement when they don’t work…

What so many are failing to hear is that:

  • Engagement isn’t an outcome it’s an intention
  • We’re not engaged by ‘things’, we’re engaged by ‘people’
  • We need to stop trying to ‘do’ engagement and start ‘being’ engaging

To develop engagement and cut through the noise, make connections with the people you’re looking to engage and stop giving people bananas and then crossing your fingers…