I am engaged.
I have been for about nine months and when I read an article like this one (“Tap into the ‘Power of Pull’ to get your brand out there”) from Steve Rubel, which promises, “Three tips for tweaking your marketing messages so people will choose to engage with you,” I think: “I don’t want anyone else to engage with me. I’m already engaged.”
I’m kidding, of course. I’m always accepting offers.
Engagement is a word that to most of the world refers to the time between when boy and girl promise to marry each other and when they actually say “I do.”
To corporate communicators, it means something else; it means … well … I’m not exactly sure.
The Conference Board defines it as “a heightened emotional connection that an employee feels for his or her organization, that influences him or her to exert greater discretionary effort to his or her work.”
So, it’s cocaine for your employees—in a good way.
The Wikipedia entry for “employee engagement” says this:
Engagement at work was conceptualized by Kahn, (1990) as the ‘harnessing of organizational members’ selves to their work roles. In engagement, people employ and express themselves physically, cognitively, and emotionally during role performances. The second related construct to engagement in organizational behavior is the notion of flow advanced by Csikszentmihalyi (1975, 1990). [Mihaly] Csikzentmihalyi (1975) defines flow as the ‘holistic sensation’ that, people feel when they act with total involvement. Flow is the state in which there is little distinction between the self and environment. When individuals are in Flow State little conscious control is necessary for their actions Employee Engagement as the extent to which workforce commitment, both emotional and intellectual, exists relative to accomplishing the work, mission, and vision of the organization. I see engagement as a heightened level of ownership where each employee wants to do whatever they can for the benefit of their internal and external customers, and for the success of the organization as a whole.
I don’t even know where to begin, so I will start at the beginning.
Since they don’t identify Kahn, I’ll assume they mean James, and that it’s spelled wrong. (I loved him in Mickey Blue Eyes.) It seems he wants companies to harness employees to their chairs, like Mike Meyers’ Phillip “the hyper hypo” character on Saturday Night Live.
Count me out, Jimmy Caan.
The second definition sounds like another drug reference. “Acting with total involvement … little distinction between the self and environment”—I think Csikszenktmikhalyi was a Dead Head.
However, this description—“I see engagement as a heightened level of ownership where each employee wants to do whatever they can for the benefit of their internal and external customers, and for the success of the organization as a whole”—begins to make sense.
As a man engaged to be married, I feel a heightened level of ownership in my relationship with my fiancé. Not in the, “I own you, woman,” kind of way, but in the, “We’re really doing this. I'm excited!” kind of way.
On that note, I will do whatever I can for the benefit of my fiancé and the success of our relationship as a whole.
So, it seems engagement in the traditional sense and the corporate sense are similar. Someone who is “engaged” in the corporate sense is much like a man or woman engaged to be married, which means they are committed—to a point. But they aren't committed to the fullest extent, which is marriage.
And that brings me to “employee marriagement,” a new term (I think), which means someone who is fully committed to the company in a lifelong “for better, for worse; for richer, for poorer” kind of way.
How many of your employees are married to your company? Is it time you launched an employee marriagement program?