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Myths of Employee Engagement

July 26, 2011
Yes, you can get too focused on engagement scores.

Employee engagement is essential, without question. Nevertheless, some accepted wisdom surrounding employee engagement may need to be revisited, suggests Laurie Bassi, CEO and co-founder of consulting firm McBassi & Co. During a recent webinar, Bassi shared what she said are three myths of employee engagement. The myths are:

Drivers of engagement are the same across organizations. Absolutely not true, said Bassi. And as a result, benchmarking employee engagement can provide misleading information, even when benchmarking within ones own industry. Therefore, you need to do your homework, she said.

The drivers of employee engagement are the same as the drivers of business results. Bassi said the two are not synonymous.

Employee engagement should be maximized. Like customer satisfaction, employee engagement should be optimized, not maximized. For example, producing a good product and providing it to customers at no cost would satisfy and delight those customers; however, "the company would quickly go bankrupt," Bassi noted.

She said it is possible to focus too much on employee engagement survey scores, particularly if it leads to paying too little attention to other high-priority issues.

"You are in the business of maximizing business results, not maximizing employee engagement, and they are not the same," Bassi noted.

Bassi noted that the myths she outlined fly "in the face of a lot of accepted wisdom."

That's not to suggest one should dismiss the importance of employee engagement, added John Gibbons, vice president and general manager, research, at the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp), which hosted the webinar. Just keep it in context with other parts of the business, he said.

See also:

The Case for an Open Communication Culture

About the Author

Jill Jusko

Bio: Jill Jusko is executive editor for IndustryWeek. She has been writing about manufacturing operations leadership for more than 20 years. Her coverage spotlights companies that are in pursuit of world-class results in quality, productivity, cost and other benchmarks by implementing the latest continuous improvement and lean/Six-Sigma strategies. Jill also coordinates IndustryWeek’s Best Plants Awards Program, which annually salutes the leading manufacturing facilities in North America.

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