When it comes to employee engagement, there’s a question that every individual should stop and think about. Why are you still here? During my consulting career, I’ve looked at more employee satisfaction surveys than I can begin to count. There is a common thread that emerges from most surveys. Whether they are canned or custom written. Most organizations ask some form of one of the following questions. Each with a scale that ranges from “Strongly Disagree” to “Strongly Agree”:
- I am satisfied with my current position.
- I would recommend this organization to others.
- I am proud to work for this company.
There’s a more fundamental question that should be asked. It should be asked as an open-ended question and I believe the answers would give more clues to what employee engagement looks like than the rest of the survey combined. Why are you still here?
You see, we believe that career development, employee satisfaction, and therefore employee engagement is owned by the employee. For disengaged employees, engagement is the responsibility of the company, senior leadership, or their direct manager. They believe they are helpless when it comes to individual development and the subsequent career advancement opportunities.
Disengaged employees will answer that question with responses with what Frederick Herzberg called hygiene factors. These include the basics required of all employees, security, salary, and fringe benefits.
Engaged employees will have dramatically different responses. Their stories, and they WILL be stories, will include things like challenging work, responsibility for their own work, achieving visible results. Herzberg called these factors motivators.
What’s interesting, is that these divergent responses can, and often do, come from two different individuals working in the same department for the same manager.
These responses reinforce the belief that it is the employees responsibility to own and manager their own career, development, and satisfaction. The organization is responsible for making sure the structures are in place to make that possible. If both of these things happen, you may not even have to run an employee satisfaction survey. You’ll just know things are working right.