The New Buzz Phrase: Employee Engagement

Examining employee commitment to organizational priorities isn’t necessarily a new concept but it’s definitely one that is trending in 2014.  It has even left one writer even asking “is employee engagement the new black?”

After seeing the headlines in so many places, I can’t help but wonder, why now?  Management 101 fad or cultural paradigm shift? In a world where the job market is still tough, it’s not necessarily an employer’s market.  Company culture, benefits, perks, and overall brand are still major factors for job seekers to consider.

So, what gives? Why now?

Is it the new generation of millennials entering the workplace that are influencing the way we do business?
Is it that technology has forced work and life to merge more than it has in the past and therefore we need more out of our work?
Has the emerging dotted line between profitability and employee happiness simply become a strategic advantage business can’t afford to ignore?
Have we redefined leadership for 2014 and beyond?

In his book, The Purpose Economy, Aaron Hurst, asserts that  “purpose has now become a business imperative. In today’s world, running an organization without an intentional emphasis on purpose for employees and customers is like running an organization in the early 1990s and failing to implement technology.”   Alum Arthur Woods (B’10), Co-Founder of Imperative recently presented on the subject via the ACS webinar program in January.

A few case studies:
Zappos has an entire website about their culture:  http://www.zapposinsights.com/The CEO of Zappos often discusses corporate culture and has been quoted as saying “So many people when they go to the office, they leave a little bit of themselves at home, or a lot of themselves at home. And they have to put on this different persona in the office, especially in corporate environments. And our whole…there’s a lot of talk about work life separation or balance and so on, whereas our whole thing is about work life integration. Its just life.”
Google donates $50 for every five hours an employee volunteers. Last year a new program sent employees to Ghana and India to work on community projects. (Not to mention they provide kitchens stocked with gourmet food and onsite laundrey services!)
Recreational Equipment (REI) uses social media to offer an online “company campfire” providing associates and executives the ability to share their thoughts and participate in lively debates and discussions.
Dreamworks Animation headquarters is visited by fresh-juice trucks to distribute free smoothies, and employees are given stipends to personalize workstations.

We want to know: What have you noticed about employee engagement trends in your workplace? What is your employer doing to engage you in the mission and culture of your organization? 

Further reading:

Employee Engagement is  A Leadership Commitment
Create  a Vocabulary That Inspires Employee Engagement
It’s Time to Rethink the Employee Engagement Issue
5 Secrets to Better Employee Engagement
5 Ways to Improve Employee Engagement Now

 

Image source: http://www.miniworkshopseries.com/highlights/?p=776

 

What We Are Reading

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Bridget Holmes, Senior Director, Career Initiatives:
A Year Without Pants: WordPress & The Future of Work
I’m just diving in to this newly released book and am already intrigued. Who can even fathom work without email? It may become a thing of the past, according to author Scott Belkum.  This book offers a behind-the-scenes look at the firm behind WordPress.com and the unique work culture that contributes to its success.  Stay tuned for my reactions!

Whitney Pezza, Associate Director, Alumni Career Services:
To Sell Is Human
Jason Levin (MBA’06) recommended Daniel Pink’s book, To Sell Is Human, after a branding workshop we did with him.  It’s a fascinating book in which Pink offers a glimpse into the new science of sales (long gone are the days of door-to-door selling) and offers the new best practices for moving others.  Pink explains that everyone works in sales; he even commissioned a study that shows that people spend about 40 percent of their work time persuading people.  No matter your industry, it’s a fantastic and very useful read!  

Sarah Hay, Assistant Director of Alumni Career Services:
Quiet: The Power of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking
I am in the middle of reading Susan Cain’s New York Times bestseller, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, and find it fascinating.  As an extrovert, I thought it would be wise for me to read this book and gain a perspective on how “the other half lives.” So far it’s been eye opening to not only hear Cain compare the decision-making styles and behaviors  between the two traits, but show how the United States transformed in to a country that promotes extroversion in every facet of society – especially the workplace!  I’m excited to continue reading Cain’s analysis on how adopting introverted traits may not be the worst thing for our current and future leaders.

We want to know: what books are on your reading list?