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Get the Duct Tape – Engagement Alarmism is Going to Make My Head Explode!


In a previous blog post, I argued rather vehemently that perhaps the state of employee engagement isn't really in some desolate netherworld, the way some would have us all believe.

In fact, a recent Modern Survey poll reports that engagement is actually going up. Although only 13 percent are defined by Modern Survey to be fully engaged (high effort/high loyalty), another 26 percent are moderately engaged (moderate effort/moderate loyalty), another 34 percent are under-engaged (adequate effort/little loyalty) and 27 percent are disengaged (little effort/little loyalty). This means that 73 percent of workers are actually putting in at least adequate levels of effort when it comes to their work, with 39 percent putting in at least moderate levels of effort AND demonstrating at least moderate levels of loyalty.

I’m not saying companies couldn’t do better, but I don’t think those results are all that bad – and they paint a very different picture than the one presented by Gallup, which typically focuses on a worldwide engagement rate of 13 percent (the average of which includes numerous underdeveloped countries) and assumes that unless workers are highly engaged, they are either “checked out” or “actively disengaged.”

I’m not overly fond of either approach to engagement, but at least the majority of indicators in the Modern Survey poll have a strong conceptual connection to the definition of engagement used in scholarly research. Gallup’s Q12, on the other hand, has only minimal conceptual relationships with scholarly engagement constructs, and the majority of its items treat employees as the passive recipients of engagement rather than as active participants (this point has been echoed by others). Add to that the fact that Gallup argues its measure considers the four stages of engagement, something that I’ve never seen validated in any scholarly way.

You’re probably asking why I always seem so intent on criticizing Gallup, and that’s a fair question. It seems each week when I read about engagement on the web, almost all of it focuses on the dismal levels of engagement reported in Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace Report and then concludes by recommending specific actions employers should take for improving engagement (which typically include using Gallup’s tools and resources).

This suggests that Gallup has some sort of silver bullet that can lead to improved engagement, which will magically improve a host of effectiveness outcomes for the organization. And, of course, it assumes that there are 12 universal drivers of employee engagement.

Here’s a novel idea: Why not ask your own workers what motivates them to do their very best for your organization? What helps them to stay focused on their work, to want to get up and come to work each day and to stay with the organization? I’ll bet the answers you receive show an enormous amount of variability. You should be using those answers to drive your own assessment of engagement within your workplace.

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wwworks / CC BY 2.0

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dr. Matt Grawitch published on January 21, 2014 2:57 PM.

Hey, Daddy-O…Please Make it Stop was the previous entry in this blog.

Dr. Teresa Amabile to Keynote 2014 Workplace Awards is the next entry in this blog.

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