- Leandro Herrero - https://leandroherrero.com -

Employee Engagement time out! ‘The survey’ has no clothes. Back to thinking, could you believe it?

‘It has been proven that people with more birthdays live longer’. Is this is a line belonging to so called ‘management thinking’ in Employee Engagement.

If there is an area in management where this kind of circular argument feels at home is the Employee Engagement one.

It has not been a good time for Employee Engagement recently. In the words of Sean Trainor [1], ‘KPMG have thrown a punch in the belly of the McEngagement movement the annual employee engagement survey – exposing employee engagement as the one of the biggest “rackets” in the HR industry since the annual appraisal process’

Not good news. But these are also excellent news. Perhaps we can now go back to basics. I have been very critical of the marriage of convenience between Employee Engagement and Employee Surveys. And there are many reasons. The simplest one that, surely not the intention of serious Employee Engagement professionals, ‘the survey’ had become an end on its own. Even great clients of mine with a good collective critical thinking, are still doing ‘that survey’… because this is what one does.

My particularly high criticism in this area is rooted in the poor logic behind some of the traditional Employee Engagement mantra. How cause and effect have been mixed up here, in this area, is particularly intriguing.

Perhaps not many people have put it better that Phil Rosenzweig in his 2007 and 2010 book ‘The Halo Effect’ [2]. His account on how years ago the UK retailer M&S could have gone from ‘most admired’ to not, in one year, without having changed anything in the culture, but having had abysmal performance, shows how the cause-effect arrow is usually in the wrong direction.

I have written about Employee Engagement [3] a lot, and in particular, about a year ago, that If you want to increase employee engagement and employee satisfaction, increase your company performance (yes, the order is not a typo) [4]

Many people were a bit annoyed. And of course there were many of the ‘it’s both’ type. Which may be right. Or not.

Well engaged employees make better companies. Successful companies have successfully engaged employees. And yes, people with more birthdays live longer.

The good news about the (possible) ‘End of the Survey’ is that we could now just relax and go back to basics to see what we can make of true employee engagement. If we de-survey-it, and de-process-it, and de-industrialise-it, we might just begin a serious conversation about what engagement, or lack of it, is.


If you missed my Call to Action yesterday, here it is again. [5]