Engage vs. Engagement

Engagement is a hot topic for organizations these days; the second runner-up is culture.

Fact is - there’s a great deal of money that goes into creating company culture, recruiting & on- boarding the right talent, training, building cohesive teams, etc.  So due to logistics, scheduling, and time-spending efforts, companies need to be targeted and streamlined in their efforts to keep employees engaged.

Let’s look at engagement - skipping over the ‘promise to wed,’ we’ll focus on this definition: a promise to meet or be present at a particular place and time. "A promise to meet," meaning two or more parties gather "to be present," meaning to be an active participant in conversation; it’s not time for day dreaming or gossiping or talking of personal happenings. BOTH parties show up to be in the game, focused, responsive and yes, engaged, to make good things happen, not only for the organization but for themselves and their career.

According to the Herman Trend Alert, in July of 2015 - culture and engagement are the most popular issues of the year.  The need to look at people programs for their ability to engage and empower people is at an all-time high – it’s critical. Here’s the point that’s missing however: there will not be engagement without relationships; there will be no tight relationships without interaction; interaction brings on illumination and employers – that’s what you want. Today's interaction will make it more likely you have one tomorrow, and meaningful dialogue leads to connection, which leads to trust, which leads to engagement.  A domino effect; you can’t have one without the other.  And, if you’re just focusing on the end result - you’re missing the point.

In my opinion, engagement is the hot topic, the buzzword being tossed around at the surface, but the foundational need is the relationships – it’s connection. For employers, solid relationships will keep employees not only engaged but also retained.  So, how do you do that? Instead of having "team building" have what I call "team bonding" exercises and events. Do purposeful things that will assist with and help in connection: learning about self, learning about each other, real relationship building, team bonding experiences.

Now for the flip side of the coin - there is a great deal of focus, if not all the focus lately, on the employer taking the responsibly for keeping their employees engaged; the employer is only one part of the two. How will employees keep themselves engaged? Do they bear some of the responsibility Here’s the deal - if you are not engaged with yourself, you’re not going to be engaged at work, or, in life for that matter. Ultimately it starts with the individual person and flows out from there.

Engagement, along with building a cohesive culture, with both parties being responsible for what they bring to the table, is what’s important here. But, to get to the engagement you need the meaningful interaction that matters, that’s of interest, that is caring – for each other and the organization overall.


Retained Executive Recruiter and Professional Coach