Welcome to the Employee Engagement Economy

Even though the stock market remains volatile and job creation lags, organizations must work to recruit and establish meaningful connections with their employees. These connections go beyond the standard CEO weekly email and involve interactions with peers, managers, and other organizational leaders.  Employee engagement is not just an annual review process.  It’s a monthly, daily or as needed process.  Like any relationship, for employees to remain happy, productive, and motivated, corporate leaders must foster and grow individuals personally as well as professionally.

Most organizations treat engagement and employee recognition programs as something to check off their quarterly or semi-annually to do this.  Most managers know that employee’s preform best when they are recognized regularly and within every part of the organization especially from the top down.  I call this a recognition culture.

The Cost of Employee Disengagement and Employment Engagement

Lost productivity leads to more than missed opportunities. Disengaged employees cost the US economy $370 Billion annually.  And the U.S. is leading other industrialized countries with a higher engaged workforce, according to analysis by Fast Company. The U.S. workforce engages 29% of employees, for example, compared to just 3% for Japan. This means that all countries have a long way to go.

The concept of the Employee Engagement Economy is much like Gary Vaynerchuk’s concept in his book “Thank You Economy.”  Relationships matter, conversations matter and business happens through the development of these social relationships.  Employment engagement, however is the idea that employers should acknowledge, attribute, and focus relation building efforts on their employees.  After all, they really and truly are our most valuable organizational asset.

Key Do’s and Don’ts to Keep Your Employees Engaged

  • DON’T take the relationship for granted.  While employee payroll is often a company’s largest expense, good employees are also an organization’s biggest asset. Employees deserve to be rewarded and recognized for good work, but it’s also the relationship built with a manager that will make or break their engagement.
  • DO require commitment from both employees and bosses.  There is no silver bullet to creating a highly engaged culture. Every employee as well as manager plays a role and like any relationship both sides must contribute just as they would in a marriage, in order for it to be enjoyable, productive, and effective.  I like to call it Re-Recruiting.
  • DON’T try to ‘game’ engagement.  Performance reviews can be gamed, faked, and BSed.  Employees know this.  Real conversations, employee and executive mentorship programs, and connections can’t. Authentic conversations can’t be automated but good habits can be developed.  Like any new exercise or healthy eating program, repetition, practice, and awareness allows for a rhythm to be developed where things fall into place.  Employee engagement works the same way.
  • DON’T confuse employee development with employee engagement.  Giving your employees opportunities to learn and grow in their careers and roles in your company is part of engagement. But it’s not the only part.  Growth has to be accompanied by meaning and fulfillment. Indeed, even in these turbulent times, good employees are leaving organizations to seek out more meaningful work.  Through a solid employee engagement relationship, you can understand your employee’s career goals and dreams and help them achieve them.

In the Employee Engagement Economy, what really matters is a collaborative relationship where employees feel fulfilled and work productively and passionately for their managers as well as their organization. To do otherwise undermines the whole system.  How are you engaging with your employees?

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.

Reader Interactions


  1. […] For many corporate professionals who happen to be voluntarily or involuntarily thrown into the job market, they see these automated interactions and the business engagement struggle every day.  On one hand, we understand the need for pre-employment testing and workplace automation.   While on the other, we want nothing more than to talk to a real human being unscripted, real, and human.  Not just a LinkedIn InMail from a recruiter but a real, live, and personalized conversation.  Just something, a nugget of insights, engagement, and compassion that isn’t a canned or planned message.  Those canned messages are just fodder for the disengaged employees. […]

  2. […] New employee orientations in some businesses have become a thing of the past.  Shuffling the new employee in, having them sit at a computer station to fill out there new hire paperwork, watch some videos on Code of Conduct and then sit them at their work station is considered “orientation”. Is this what’s happening at your organization? […]

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