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Employee engagement Leadership

How to engage your employees

Engaging millennials and Zeds seems like a difficult task. In fact is about something else

I recently had the opportunity to attend an HR Summit and noticed that the preferred topics were recruitment and employee engagement. 

There was even a nice lady – a consultant – that made a survey and came with plenty of insights regarding the needs of employees and the fact that the new generations like Z and the millennials are less and less engaged and they do only the things they want, they do not care about the companies and they declare at the moment of employment that they are seeking a job for maximum 2-3 years. Facts that I don’t deny, they might be true.

But I also noticed that most of HR professionals, consultants and even top managers are taking it the wrong way. The general approach was – what to do with these people because they are not engaged and we have to give them or tell them something to become more engaged. An entire, centralised engagement policy, led by Top Management and Strategic HR Partners is now in place. TOTALY WRONG!

Engagement is not about workplaces, bonus structures, recreational places, Play Stations and pool tables, gyms or seminars. It’s not even about company structure or brand name. It’s about people. People engage with people and brands because they care.

Fix your managers

For an employee, her manager is the company. There are more and more managers that are not ready to be managers. Management incompetence is becoming more and more challenging nowadays (yes I said it). In my opinion there are at least three reasons for it:

  1. Management positions come faster and faster. There are people that have been with the company for only 6 months and they are already promoted even if they do not understand the company values. Sometimes they do not even understand their own job, but they get a promotion, in hope that they will manage with the position somehow.
  2. Companies are battlefields. In theory all departments in a company should work together, but in fact most of department heads are interested in promoting their own position and department, even if sometimes this damage other departments or company interest. Therefore each department is interested in its own survival. Departments and managers are fighting each other inside the company. Managers are following their own interests or best care department interest creating unnecessary pressure inside the company.
  3. Fear. In some companies, sometimes, managers fear for their positions, fear their superiors, fear their subordinates and create a fear culture. Fear is creating a passive – aggressive behaviour that propagates inside the company. Very few people are really making decisions.
Forget short term thinking

There is less and less strategic thinking other than this year, or worse, this quarter profits. When quarterly profits are your target, employment strategies become shorter. We want our people to be engaged and love the company forever but actually we are hiring them for short term (even if we don’t tell them that). I am telling you two secrets:

  1. People do not live for short term. Or differently said, if you treat them short term, don’t expect long term
  2. People are not stupid
Where is the love?

Engagement happens when two people love each-other. We want our employees to love our company. How much love do the company shows them? When companies are ready to sacrifice the people for short term goals, when people fear their managers, when there are more and more systems to enforce company policies – where is the love? Compliance and engagement don’t work together most of the time. Our companies have compliance managers and departments. Do they have love and forgiveness departments?

Stop making cosmetic changes and start doing the right thing. You’ll notice the change.