Talking to leaders at a recent conference, I felt a sense of real concern regarding the question of engagement.  Not surprising considering that the 2013 Gallup State of the Global Workplace Report shows that only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged and that the 2014 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends research shows that 78% of business leaders rate retention and engagement as important (26% rate it as urgent).

Trends that remain essentially unchanged for a decade…  Perhaps because we don’t know what the word means?


For years we’ve heard engagement defined as a willingness to give discretionary effort… to go the extra mile.  And in most organisations it’s measured annually through surveys that skim the surface.  It’s time to get to the heart of the matter.

To do so, we need to go deeper in the definition:

Engagement isn’t just a concept, it’s also a feeling.

A complex feeling of loyalty, excitement and passion.  A feeling that puts an extra zing into the step of employees; a feeling that drives innovation of new products and services, that delights customers and drives bottom line results.  A feeling that ripples out across the organisation driving success

If we use the analogy of engagement and marriage, we don’t want our employees to be ‘engaged’, we want them to be ‘married.’  We want them to be firmly committed to the relationship.  And are we, as organisational leaders, firmly committed to them?


When I walk into a company, I’m looking for vitality, in that spark you can see in employees who actually care.  Does the word ‘engagement’ capture it?  How would you redefine engagement?

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