Engagement: Why Silly Events Show a Lack of Company Commitment

In the employee engagement effort, one comment that never fails to give me pause is: “We have our employee engagement event scheduled for next Friday.”

This could also be phrased as, “Don’t forget to attend our Engagement Pizza Party!

Working to create an environment in which employees choose to engage more deeply (thereby increasing productivity and performance) is much more than an event. It’s a commitment to changing the very culture of your organization.

Indeed, treating employee engagement as an event can disengage employees  as shown in recent research conducted by Wayne Hochwarter, the Jim Moran Professor of Business Administration in the Florida State University College of Business.

“Engaged employees can quickly become disengaged if they feel taken advantage of — and a formerly engaged employee can do more harm to the company than one who was never engaged to begin with. …

“Hochwarter’s findings clearly illustrate that engaged workers, without needed company support and other resources, can begin to exhibit a number of undesirable attitudes and behaviors.

A decline in helping behavior (50 percent lower);
Increased anger at supervisors (35 percent higher);
A view that expectations are beyond one’s capabilities (33 percent higher);
Additional stress (30 percent higher); and
Lower overall productivity (25 percent lower).”

Social recognition works best

One powerful way to create an ongoing, engaging culture is through social recognition. In fact, People Management magazine recently suggested one of the best ways to engage Gen Y (Millennials) is through social media.

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Though the article is speaking to social media in an external sense, there is just as much power – if not more – to be gained through using the inherent social elements in an internal social program built around frequent, timely positive feedback and praise.

Does your organization focus on engagement events or creating a culture of engagement? What’s the impact you see?

You can find more from Derek Irvine on his Recognize This! blog.

Derek Irvine is one of the world’s foremost experts on employee recognition and engagement, helping business leaders set a higher vision and ambition for their company culture. As the Vice President of Client Strategy and Consulting at Globoforce, Derek helps clients — including some of world’s most admired companies such as Proctor and Gamble, Intuit, KPMG, and Thomson Reuters — leverage recognition strategies and best practices to better manage company culture, elevate employee engagement, increase retention, and improve the bottom line. He's also a renowned speaker and co-author of Winning with a Culture of Recognition. Contact him at irvine@globoforce.com.


3 Comments on “Engagement: Why Silly Events Show a Lack of Company Commitment

  1. and don’t forget, next Friday is Hawaiian Shirt Day, but only if you remember your 37 pieces of flair.

  2. It is crazy that people can so easily miss that by declaring an “engagement holiday” or “recognition event”, it reinforces to the managers who don’t quite get it that these are not “all the time” things.  When you set aside time for recognition or set up events to encourage engagement, it tells them that those are the only times to consider those things (maybe the 5 minutes or so before those events).
    The best is the recurring events that have a planned end date.  Lets get people in the habit of feeling appreciated, then get rid of it!  Pizza party Fridays, but only during the summer.  Great way to make people really cranky for a few weeks after the summer ends…

  3. Great points ENJOY and The Bob’s. “Office Space” is a classic movie of exactly what not to do – banners proclaiming “we’ll all be happy,” birthday cake, etc.

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