Why Employee Engagement Isn’t Working

After decades of working with companies going through transitions, building high performance teams, cultural transformations, and judging on employee engagement awards for two different organizations on multiple continents, I have gained insights into companies globally, both small and large.

I’ve also come to the conclusion that working with employee engagement is definitely a step in the right direction, but there are some underlying key critical factors that determine whether these types of strategies will stick or not.

In order for employee engagement strategies to work well, there must be a higher purpose with what the company is doing.

Why do we do what we do?

Why do we exist?

And what kind of positive impact are we having in the world?

These are vital questions in this day and age. It’s essential to look at them from both from the employee or internal perspective of a company and from the customer or external perspective as well.

But underlying even the bigger purpose, there is something even more critical.

It’s trust—trust between the management, the board, the employees, the customers, the suppliers, and the stockholders. If there is a low level of trust, it doesn’t matter how much you do with the other strategies because they are built on a very shaky foundation. When there is a high level of trust, then anything is possible!

Steven M.R. Covey, author of the Speed of Trust and Smart Trust, has done great research into making trust concrete and measurable. His research shows that a high trust organization outperforms a low trust organization by 600%! There is a direct correlation to how much time you can save in a high trust organization to implement anything and therefore the costs go down.

We are in a trust crisis right now according to the latest Edelman Trust Barometer. In part, I agree. Trust for organizations, governments, institutions, and media is down to record lows.

However, social media and technology are increasing trust with both platforms and strangers in unprecedented ways. Just look at what is happening with Uber and AirBnB. We are getting into cars with strangers and staying in a stranger’s home without any qualms now. (Not to mention that these are the biggest transportation and hospitality companies and they do not own any cars or hotels!)

So what is really happening in our world? I believe we are going through a major mindset shift.  We are on one level learning that our institutions have not had our best interests in mind. Corporations have been driven solely for profits and with a mindset that people are expendable. This is not sustainable. And these institutions will continue to fail unless they start to adapt to the market demands—and quickly!

We are learning more on a scientific basis that we are connected to an unseen energy field and we seem to intuitively understand that on some level, we are all connected. We are collectively realizing that we have one planet and we need to fix the problems now. So we are more open to connect to strangers and trust them even more so than the old establishment.

We are definitely going through a paradigm shift, a mindset shift, and our world is transforming incredibly fast now. We are heading into a time of tremendous change—in this century we will experience the equivalent of 20,000 years with all the technology changes coming out way! The companies and the leaders that respond and proactively adapt to this are the ones that will thrive.

So what’s wrong with employee engagement now? It is not the magic pill you might have hoped it would be. It is certainly one essential building block to creating an amazing company. And the culture of a company must be built on a strong foundation of purpose and trust. Then you will have thriving employees who are engaged and taking the company to its full potential!

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