Employee engagement programs are confused with employee entertainment activities. Many organisations start and end up with entertainment activities without knowing the distinction with what a true engagement program that an employee would appreciate.
Here is my firsthand experience on the subject.
Two years back I was working in an IT organisation. The company had young employees who were in their mid-twenties. And like many companies in new age industries, the company wanted to keep the employees in good spirits.
The company had employee engagement activities. They usually were dance shows that allowed the employees to sweat out in corners in cafeteria demarcated for the purpose. Some employees, especially those who were young and new to the organization, enjoyed it. But many did not.
This is because the activities were physically engaging but not intellectually.
I was working with the quality team and we introduced ‘Kaizen’ as an employee engagement activity. Employees participated in the program with enthusiasm and interest. Thousands of ideas were posted by employees, each evaluated and hundreds were implemented. Suddenly there was a business improvement orientation all across the organization. Employees were happy – discussing and participating in the core purposes of the organisation.
It came out that a true employee engagement is one in which employees can contribute in the decision making processes of organisational management. Those that do not engage so, will merely be seen as employee entertainment designed to hoodwink young employees.
The sad thing is that activities such as ‘kaizen initiatives’ are not seen as functions of HR. It is left to ‘Quality’ or ‘TQM’ to champion such true employee engagement initiatives.
Organisations should realize employee engagement is much more than employee entertainment
HR should champion ‘kaizen’ and other process improvement initiatives.