The Employee Engagement Discussion — Part 1

I’ve spent much of my career asking and answering the question: Who is responsible for employee engagement?

Good CEOs, Presidents and Managers usually say engagement is squarely their responsibility. Then Human Resources (or Talent Management or the People Department) usually sits at the table and says they are responsible for the execution of Engagement strategies but they need my help. The conversation usually goes like this:

My Q: What role does Internal Communications have for employee engagement?

Their A: You share the message.

Q: What message?

A: You tell everyone how eager we are to have them engaged and tell them all the things we are doing to engage them.

Q: But what if that’s not engaging them?

A: Then you aren’t doing it right.

Big chunks of information are compiled: number of meetings, improved performance management, maybe number of times senior leaders “connect” to employees. These connection meetings usually have clever names like Coffee with Cathy or Employee Face-to-Face.

Internal communications drafts a memo from the President/CEO that really speaks to why engagement is important and talks about some of the changes we are going to make. Human Resources gets concerned and adds a lot of couching language and big words.

The discussion about what to say starts moving from manager to manager to director to CEO and back down.

At the end of the day, the way an organization deals with the discussion around engagement speaks a lot to the values and engagement within the organization.Until you can start getting really clear messages out and having really productive conversations about what engagement means to your organization (not just to you), you will continue to get stuck on this important metric.