Rudy Karsan, co-founder and CEO of Kenexa, has a new book out which he helped co-author titled: We: How To Increase Performance and Profits Through Full Engagement, which speaks to, obviously from the title, employee engagement and how to get your employees engaged “fully”. What I like about this book, apart from other HR employee engagement books, is that Karsan and his co-author, Kevin Kruse, look at the engagement from both sides. From the book:
When unlocking the secret to an engaged workforce, many people assume that an organization owns the single key—that it’s up to leadership to find and turn the key. Many ask, “What can Eva do to better engage the workers at her location?” or, “Acme needs to address their issues around trust and transparency to get their employees better engaged.” Indeed, the role of leaders is essential. But the We approach to full engagement acknowledges equally the critical role of the worker—the individual. Employees’ engagement levels may be limited by the fact that they just don’t fit with the company culture. Or, they may be in the wrong career, or the wrong kind of company. Quality leadership alone isn’t enough to unlock engagement. You need a second key. You hold the second key.
Most HR shops and leadership teams spend so much time focusing on “what can we do, to get our employees engaged”. I think this is primarily because, this is what the feel they can “control” in that employee/employer “relationship”. We tend to give up on the other side, feeling that there is nothing we can do about the employee side of this equation. But there is – give your employees a gift…
“Oh, wait, Tim, we’ve given our employees so many gifts, my executives would freak if I told them we need to give them one more gift!” “What are you talking about anyway – another polo shirt, a portfolio with our logo embossed, a coffee mug, new name badges – what!?” I’m talking about the gift of choice. In HR we control the talent level, and in many ways, the engagement level of the talent we bring into organizations. Many people we have working for us are choosing, not to be engaged. No matter how hard we try, and how many team building activities, new projects, new technologies and pat-on-the-backs we give, they just don’t feel it’s important enough for their career to be engaged with us as an employer.
So, we have one last gift to give – choice. You can choose to be engaged with us, our team, our goals…or you can choose to leave. It has to be one or the other – a third option is not available. In the best job market, where the employees and candidates have an edge, I can still find great people, who want to work for my organization and be engaged. It’s not an option to hold onto individuals who are not willing to try and be engaged, when you and your organization are doing all you can, with the resources you have, to be keep your employees engaged.