Let's be realistic. The path to happier, more productive employees is never as simple as connecting point A to point B. It's easy to get ensnared by the belief "engagement" is driven by employee perks, but building true engagement requires much more.
In a recent post, The Workforce Institute Board Member, China Gorman, shared her warning of how employee "engagement" as a primary focus can actually be a distraction from more important goals — goals that naturally build more engaging workplaces. Gorman proposes that "engagement is not just one thing. It’s the outcome of many things." [Emphasis ours.]
Being that engagement is a topic we touch on often in our discussions about helping workforce management work for you. It's important to take a step back to process what this really means.
A culture of engagement begins with people. When your organization puts interpersonal relationships first, that truly resonates. And sure, there are many solutions, like workforce management systems, that can help eliminate tensions between colleagues.
No one likes to have finance blowing up their inbox for unsubmitted hours, just as finance probably would rather be spending their time looking for proactive ways to maximize profit than shaking down timesheet delinquents. Administration, however necessary, can always ideally become less of an obstacle to getting the real work done. That's where workforce management becomes a tool for helping your workforce support better engagement possible from the ground up.
But what about from the top-down?
Without honest and transparent leadership at the helm, engagement cannot be achieved.
Great performance is developed, not managed, and that is the responsibility of strong managers who are engaged with their employees (not the other way around). That's because business leaders are the make or break point — the ultimate example of company culture. When those at the top treat those in the ranks with respect and trust, only then can a workplace begin to be seen as an engaging and fulfilling place.
Whether or not you believe employee engagement is the appropriate primary goal to pursue, it's almost certain that transparent and honest leadership behaviors do make for a more engaging and supportive workplace that is tuned in to the needs of its base. Work toward that ideal first, and engagement will surely follow.