Is it feasible to expect every single worker to be engaged?
It feels likes employee engagement is the new buzz in hospitality, with promises of increased productivity and profitability being thrown about.
What I can’t decide is, could there be a big underlying problem with the whole engagement hype? Does it create unrealistic expectations for employees? Does it set unachievable goals for companies?
When I got my first job at 16 working for a well-known fast food brand, I’m not sure I was engaged. In fact I didn’t want a job. It was my dad that had frog marched me down there saying “you’re old enough to work now, it’s an important life lesson to learn how to support yourself.” Thanks Dad :). During my time there I worked loads of overtime not because I couldn’t get enough of work but because I loved having loads of money, more than my pocket money, to spend on all the things I wanted…and there was a lot I wanted! Clothes, shoes, video games, going out on the razzle!
Did I care about the company goals? Did I care if we took more money than the other shop down the road? No I don’t think I did. I did care that customers left happy, enjoyed their meal and would go out of my way to help if something had gone wrong. Does that mean I was engaged and was that a result of something my manager did to make me feel this way? I don’t know.
In contrast, I feel completely engaged in my current role. I understand the impact I have and I know my opinion is respected, even if it’s not right. I feel valued, in control of my own destiny, being supported without it being overbearing. Here we are all about engagement. We want all our employees to have a voice, to be able to challenge and push us forward with innovative thinking. We use a number of engagement tools like Hipchat, Mailchimp and Sharepoint. It feels great, I get up in the morning and I’m thinking right what’s my plan for today – I feel driven and ready to succeed.
Now when I think back to my first job, I question what would have motivated me in the same way I am now back then. Would it have been the same that engages me now? Is it the technology that helps engage me? I didn’t go skipping to work back then. I do feel I worked to my best ability but I certainly didn’t feel like I feel now.
Questions I want to understand are; does every job/role have the potential to offer a meaningful, exciting, and self-actualising experience? Does a job need to engage you to ensure you are at your most productive at all times? Can technology play a part in employee engagement? Let me know what you think!
Kerry Townsend, Director of Hospitality Business