Another Take on Engagement: It's About Helping "Overwhelmed" Employees (Video)


You may be tired of hearing about it, but one thing is certain: employee engagement is a critical workplace issue that just doesn't seem to go away.

I was struck by this recently when I watched an episode of Firing Line with Bill Kutik, where the former co-chair of the HR Technology conference talked with HR analyst and commentator Josh Bersin about — you guessed it — engagement.

Kutik's video interviews are always pretty interesting, and engagement, of course, is one of those issues that managers just can't get enough of because no one seems to have a good take on what engagement is and how to improve it.



There are some business executives who don't believe that engagement is all that critical an issue because so many companies seem to have a terribly difficult time just defining what it is, and more importantly, how it impacts the bottom line.

"Employees are the essence of products and services"

Josh Bersin takes a different view. As he wrote in Forbes back in 2014:

In fact, I believe the issue of “engaging people well” is becoming one of the biggest competitive differentiators in business.

The change we need to make is to redefine engagement beyond an “annual HR measure” to a continuous, holistic part of an entire business strategy. If your people love their work and the environment you have created, they will treat customers better, innovate, and continuously improve your business. And today, with the increased transparency at work and the Affordable Health Care Act available, high performers can change jobs easier than ever."

But as Josh also made clear in his Forbes article, there's a shift going on how organizations handle and manage employees that is more than just a focus on engagement.

Part of this shift is redefining our perspective on an employee. Rather than consider people as “hired hands” we want to “engage,” (the whole term “human resources” has this old fashioned connotation) high-engagement companies understand that employees are the essence of products and services. They develop, deliver, and support what our customers experience every day.

We can’t “retain” people, we can only “attract them.” We can’t “engage them” but we can “inspire and support them.” We can’t only “train them” but we can “enable them to learn” and “give them the opportunities to develop.”

Let’s change our thinking and move beyond the concept of engagement.  If really achieve the goal of making or organizations “Irresistible” we can make work fun, meaningful, and enriching for everyone."

Is work really "overwhelming?"

That's why this discussion between Bill Kutik and Josh Bersin is an interesting one, particularly when they discuss the "overwhelming nature of work" that just about everyone is dealing with given the overwhelming amount of data coming at us 24/7.

It's not a long video — not quite 7 minutes — but well worth a little bit of your time.

Editor's Note: The Talent Insider blog is fueled by Checkster, and Checkster has great tools -- like the Reference Checkup, the Interview Checkup, and the 360 Checkup -- that can help you make better talent decisions as you build a better team and culture.