Archives for posts with tag: engagement

Today I read a two frame comic that was at once slightly humourous and somewhat sad.

A small herd made up of two deer and a moose say to an another moose: “Brian, the herd has discussed it and because you are sick, we’re cutting you from the herd and leaving you to the wolves.”  Brian’s response: “C’mon guys, it’s just the sniffles”.

I’m sure I wouldn’t have given it a second thought except that this week, I heard stories of two friends being thrown to the wolves by their employers.

In the first situation, my friend has been with the same company for more than 25 years. During his tenure, he has taken no more than the average couple of days here and there because of sickness.  Last week he had surgery and the doctor (remember this salient point for later) told him he would be off work 4-6 weeks.  During his first week off (salient point number 2), he received four, yes four, calls from his employer asking when he would be back on “modified” duties.  In response to the reminder that his doctor had said 4-6 weeks, he was told: “Well, Bob had the same surgery and was back in two weeks”!  Apparently administrators with no medical qualifications are now deemed competent to override an MD’s instructions.  And apparently 25 years of loyal service means nothing.

In the second situation, my friend had been working, as a temp worker,  for her employer for five months.  After being felled by the devastating flu that everyone in this city either has or is recovering from, she was away from work for a week.  Every day she called in and every day she was told by her manager to take it easy and get well.  On the very day she advised her boss she would be back the next day, she got a call from the employment agency telling her she had been terminated due to absenteeism.  To add insult to injury, or in this case, craziness to the unbelievable, just before Christmas at a gathering of some 250 people, the local highest ranking company official had presented her with an award of recognition for accomplishing some amazing task in a ridiculously short amount of time.  He even said that what had taken him a year to do, she did in just three months!

So what the hell is going on? I know, I know  there are two sides to every story.  And I also know that as a loyal friend, I am bound to easily see my friends’ versions of events.  Precisely because I have known these people for more than 20 years though,  I think I have a pretty good take on their work ethic and histories.

And as much as I know that two examples,  anecdotal at that, do not a trend make, I am going to opine there are far too many situations of people being afraid to be away from work for fear of losing their jobs.  While public health agencies are advocating staying home to reduce the transmission of illness and doctors are dispensing medical advice based presumably on their knowledge and expertise, organizations are tacitly or directly sending the message that even legitimate absences will be challenged .

“Back in the day”, loyalty was an esteemed quality.  Today, sadly, not so much.  Companies have bemoaned a lack of employee loyalty for many years now.  My response is, are you kidding me?  In my parents time, employees were inspired to give the very best of themselves, what in motivational theory jargon is called discretionary effort.  In return, organizations responded in kind.  When companies talked about employees as “family”, it really was true.   The resulting symbiotic relationship was the ultimate win-win for both. But we aren’t in Kansas anymore, Dorothy…

If I sound hardened or jaded, I am not completely so.  In my own career, I have been fortunate to work for some caring organizations and more particularly caring bosses to whom I was very loyal and had that loyalty returned in spades whether in terms of opportunities for training, flexible work hours, autonomy or the ability to respond to home life issues when they “creep” into the work day as they occasionally and invariably will do.

So although I can’t say I  have personally experienced such a lack of compassion in the workplace, my sense of justice is offended on behalf of my friends.   As much as I hate to be negative, I really don’t think that loyalty will ever return to the workplace.  If anyone sees things differently, I would happily love to be convinced!!  Do you think loyalty in the workplace is dead?




We hear a lot these days about employee engagement.  Although it is important and good to talk about such a critically important topic, it is even more important to act on everything we are learning about what motivates people to bring the best of themselves to work every day.
Although many definitions of engagement exist, it really does boil down to an engaged employee being one who is fully involved in and enthusiastic about their work and therefore acting in a way that furthers their organization’s interests. According to Scarlett Surveys, “Employee engagement is a measurable degree of an employee’s positive or negative emotional attachment to their job, colleagues and organization that profoundly influences their willingness to learn and perform at work”. 
The terms employee satisfaction and engagement are often used synonymously. Although they are in fact two sides of the same coin, most simply put, the former is what you get and the latter is what you give.

Given the current climate where a myriad of Canadian studies  show that approximately two thirds of the workforce (and that is both private and public sector) are disengaged, what can a leader do not only to keep currently engaged employees excited but to re-engage those who have become ‘zombies’; those who stumble around the office, lower morale and cost the organization money.

Practically, managers can make sure they address the four “ates”: Communicate, Create, Delegate, Celebrate.
There can never be enough communication in any organization. Begin by clearly communicating your goals and expectations to your team. Without this, how can employees even begin to be fully involved and enthusiastic?  Share information and numbers when you can, as soon as you can and as often as you can.  Everyone understands that not all information can be revealed all the time.  Most employees will respect a manager who says: ” I can’t talk about that right now but as soon as I can, I will” or simply ” I don’t know that but I will try to find out”.  Feedback of the positive and constructive varieties will help foster a positive attachment to their job and ultimately their organization.

Create what? The milieu. At the end of the day, managers can’t make anybody ‘be motivated’ but they most assuredly can influence the environment where employees can self motivate. A strong team environment will contribute to each individual contributor’s sense of belonging.

When and where you can, delegate both for the purpose of development as well as to demonstrate your trust in them to do the job correctly thus increasing their ownership of the task.

Celebrate when and how you can. This doesn’t mean it has to cost a lot of money-be creative and have fun!  Most importantly, be genuine.  Sincere appreciation and recognition will send the intended message: thank you for contributing to our success.