In the quest for employee engagement, it would be prudent to separate fact from fiction and discern what is formidable from what is fantasy. The big question is whether the problems causing employee disengagement can be solved by external efforts exerted by company rules and regulations, or by internal corporate efforts whereby the individual employees are trained to purposely decide to become engaged at work, by making positive changes to their attitudes and mindsets.
The solution is not procedural, it's psychological. The direction business leaders take to address this cultural malady in the hearts, minds and spirits of their workforces will determine if achieving employee engagement is feasible, or a fairytale.
Studies of strategies to create employment engagement in the corporate workplace are amongst the most popular searches performed by Google by business owners and managers. It seems that many business leaders are looking for the Yellow Brick Road to prosperity or at the very least, looking for Wizards who can help them achieve this mystical condition of employee engagement. According to an article by John Baldoni published in the July 4, 2013 edition of the Harvard Business Review, research firms such as the Gallup Corporation have performed studies which include responses from upwards of 1.4 million employees. So popular is this genre of research and the various opinions derived from this research about employment engagement, that data from similar surveys could fill a library.
In the vein of popularity and libraries, the US Library of Congress proclaims L. Frank Baum's classic The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to be 'America's greatest and best-loved homegrown fairytale' and upon its Hollywood release in 1939, the voters from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences were so engaged with the film they awarded it the Oscar for Best Picture, beating out critically acclaimed literary classics such as Of Mice and Men, Wuthering Heights and even Gone with the Wind.
What arguably creates a sense of engagement for those who follow the trials and tribulations of Dorothy and her three misfit friends, is that they defeat the Wicked Witch of the West and release the inhabitants of Oz from tyranny and oppression. The moral of the story is the quintessential quest based on hope and overcoming adversity, where the good guys beat the bad guys and everyone lives happily ever after. This parallels the attitudes and mindsets of many employees who view the corporate hierarchy as that of 'Us vs Them'. On a more personal level, each of the characters in Baum's fairy tale discover they did not need to continue to suffer from self-inflicted fears about seemingly insurmountable challenges. They also discovered they didn't require the mystical power of a Wizard to solve their problems for the simply reason that the solution was always within them ; they only required a dose of self-reflection to determine what motivated each of them individually to make healthy changes in their mindsets.
The same message applies to any business looking to create, improve or maintain a corporate culture of employee engagement. The benefits are indisputable, but the methodology to achieve a corporate wonderland like in the Happy Land of Oz is as mystical as the challenges Dorothy met along the Yellow Brick Road. Employee engagement is created when employees look inside themselves to determine what's really important to them. Without a sense of purpose and without some belief that their labors are making a difference in the greater community, they become complacent, apathetic and even despondent. Where there is no hope, the spirit weakens, and where there is no vision, the people perish.
Ararat Consulting teaches workforces to participate in self-reflective exercises to help them determine the answers to questions they've never asked themselves. Our methodology is not focused on improving quantifiable metrics of productivity, it's based on qualifying for your people what they believe is important about their job, what's important about their company, and what's important about their mindset. Ararat's successes with achieve sustainable employee engagement is based on the proof that when employees believe that their personal values matter to the company, they in turn focus more value on the company.
And productivity always goes up.
Only after employees can begin are taught to examine and understand what's important to them, can they begin to understand what's important to the company. Ararat helps to change their mindsets, so they can decide to change their workplace methodologies.
BOTTOM LINE: when business owners and leaders help their employees develop healthier mindsets and a stronger sense of self-awareness in the workplace, the workplace becomes stronger and healthier.