Organizations need to learn how to increase employeeengagement. I don’t mean that HR needs to do a survey or that Corporate Communications needs to start a campaign that promotes positive attitudes or that departments need to have more social events. Those might be nice to do but those activities do not result in organizational learning. By “learning” I mean when the organization as a whole knows how to engage employees and does this continually as part of its culture.
David Zinger offers guidelines for what organizations need to learn. He describes what they should and should not do to create a culture of engagement. For example, one of his “… top 11 ways to ensure employee disengagement” is “never let an employee ask a survey question.” Actually, the opposite is true. That is, always involve employees in asking survey questions. First of all, they know what is important to ask, and, secondly, the more they are involved the more likely it is that they will use the findings from the survey to support and implement efforts to enhance engagement. A caveat to this guideline is that there is an art and science to asking good survey questions and conducting a valid and reliable survey, so you always want a survey expert involved.
In Zinger’s “13 Powerful Guidelines for Employee Engagement Programs,” he writes that the way to develop engagement is to:
Spread engagement around. Make everyone responsible for their own engagement and accountable to everyone else in the organization. We don’t need people checking up on us, we need people checking in with us to talk about our fluctuating levels of engagement. Avoid putting engagement in the hands of just HR or Internal Communications. This is a line issue, this is everyone’s issue. Don’t forget, CEO’s and Presidents are employees too.
Zinger is making the point that engagement is everyone’s responsibility. Managers are responsible for learning how to do things that promote engagement and employees are responsible for discovering ways to increase their own engagement. When this happens, everyone is learning how to learn about engagement. The organization does not learn if engagement programs are owned by part of the organization without involving all of the other parts. The company-wide conversation about engagement is the way to learn.