Employee Engagement and Internal Comms are not the same thing

Recently, I was contacted by a head hunter from a recruitment agency asking if I was interested in a fabulous employee engagement role that he felt my experience would be perfect for etc, etc…

So I said ‘well, tell me a bit about the role, what is it looking to achieve, what are the key responsibilities and objectives’. He then spent the next five minutes telling me about how the role was looking to improve the communication internally and drive employee engagement by developing new tools and platforms (both print based and digitally) that staff could interact with.

‘When are you going to get to the bit about employee engagement’ I asked, ‘I just have’ he said, so I asked him a question.

‘Think about the time that you were at you most engaged in your career, tell me why that was, and what was it about that time that made you remember it?’

What he told me was about how he was working in a role that he felt was perfect for him, He knew this because he had a clear sense of direction, he believed in what he was doing and he had a manager that encouraged him, got to know him as a person, not just as an employee, and because of this recognised him and challenged him in a way that felt good for him. He felt trusted, valued, respected…..engaged.

‘So how much of what engaged you in that role is in the job description you have in front of you?’ I said. ‘Well not much actually’ he said ‘although some of the things this organisation is looking to put in place would’ve helped’.

And that’s my point.  Internal communication has a significant role to play in engagement, get it wrong and it certainly won’t be helpful, and if you don’t invest in the right things you’ll certainly get less interaction and participation. Engagement isn’t about internal communications, engagement is about behaviour.

  • Behaviour between two people
  • Behaviour that encourages conversation
  • Behaviour delivered with emotional intelligence
  • Behaviour that builds trust and strengthens relationships
  • Behaviour delivered by people that recognise that the environment they’re in has an impact.

In short, behaviour that recognises that you, we, and everyone else are individual and unique. There is no formula or internal comms programme that will ‘engage’ us, only people that we can be ‘engaged’ by.

What that head hunter had experienced was an organisation, and more importantly a manager, that recognised this and put the time and effort in to deliver it, and he was ‘engaged’ because of this.

So I didn’t get the job, it was a great role despite being slightly miss-sold, but it wasn’t right for me. What I did get was an invitation to go and talk to the recruitment agency about their engagement levels as a business, a conversation, and in that an opportunity to build trust, understanding, and engagement.  And what I got from that was a partner, a client and a mutually productive relationship.

If you or your organisation needs help understanding and delivering ‘real’ engagement then drop us a line.