One of our common themes here at Happy Team Check is about what employee engagement is: what it is for our customers, our business and for the human resources industry as a whole. We spend a lot of time advising our clients on employee engagement, so much so that we can summarize everything into a single sentence:

Employee engagement is making sure that your people are invested in what you do.

All the techniques, best practices and ideas that go into employee engagement serve one primary purpose: to ensure that companies can remain as effective as they can be.  Who would want to be in a company that doesn’t know how to effectively optimize their people, right?

But there is a line between what employee engagement can do for you that helps your employees, and what employee engagement can do that may ultimately hurt your employees.  Let’s take a look then at three things that employee engagement is not supposed to be for:

Employee engagement is not tokenism.  It is not about gathering data in order to build a workplace where employees can be easily contented with symbolic gestures.  Rather, employee engagement should lead the way towards effecting meaningful change that in turn helps everyone.  Token changes to the workplace may be great for employers, but not for employees.

Employee engagement is not about imposition and giving in.  Remember that building a workplace is a collective effort — it isn’t simply the domain of the employer.  Employees need to have stake in how the workplace works.  Employee engagement survey is a helpful tool for employers to know exactly what employees want so that they can participate in building those very workplaces.

Finally, employee engagement is not simply “engagement for engagement’s sake”.  You don’t simply engage your employees because you have to when something goes wrong; rather, you engage employees because something is wrong and you sincerely want to fix it.  Or if you want to improve something, so sincerely make an effort to engage your employees.  It’s not simply just doing the strokes for the sake of doing it.

When it comes to sincerely engaging your employees to make changes to the workplace, it’s important to bear in mind that engagement is not a game.  It is something that can either define your company if it goes well, or break it if it goes badly.  Bearing this in mind, investing in your employees should be treated like any other investment: as something that should be taken seriously. Because if we don’t, then just how well will the world’s companies fare?