Employee engagement is so much more than a marriage of convenience

Motivation ... meaning & fulfilment

Engagement rings loudly

Employee engagement is so much more than a marriage of convenience. Companies that don't value their staff may just find a teepee village springing up in the carpark, writes Daniel Allen


MEANING and fulfilment, eh? They sound a bit hippy. They might inspire people to work at the animal sanctuary, but they’re not hard-nosed motivators like status or power. Are they?

Well, yes. Research by Prudential, the insurance company, found that 40 per cent of workers under 35 intend to downshift in search of a better life. One Briton in 14 has already done so, suggesting that people want more from their working lives than ulcers.

But do you have to bale out and bake bread to discover meaning? Or are there ways of finding fulfilment within the work you do already?

Dilys Robinson, principal research fellow at the Institute for Employment Studies, says that employee “engagement” — HR-speak for meaning and fulfilment — is a tricky concept to pin down. It’s easy to see how those working in the voluntary sector will be driven by a charity’s aims, but how does it work in business? It all hangs on the company product, Robinson says. High engagement levels are found in those who believe in the service the organisation is selling.

But as with many of the motivators in this series, meaning and fulfilment cannot be isolated from wider employment issues. Robinson says that employee engagement also depends on staff feeling that the company values them; on their training and development needs being met; and on effective line management that “interprets the company to the employee” — and vice versa. The effect is that engaged employees perform better.

So, yes, share a teepee with a goat if you think it will make you happy. But meaning and fulfilment may lie closer to home — although you have to believe in what you’re doing.

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