Faking empoyee engagement?

Employee engagement models provide nice tools to assess and pigeonhole employees into categories. The most praised category is the engaged employees’ for engaged people finding satisfaction and the organization their best performers. The models and studies state that engaged employees contribute more to the organization’s goals than lesser engaged employees.

Yet I wonder if the boundaries between employee categories are that clear and engagement assessment that reliable.

The case I am thinking about is a manager who works hard, has success, is loved by team and seemingly dedicated to the company. Within the organization, he is often praised as an example to follow.

On several casual occasions he said loving his job and having fun, and his dedication is noticeable when he speaks to customers.

According to Aon Hewitt’s model, he “Says, Stays and Strives” (fig.), so he should be engaged.

source: Aon Hewitt, www.aon.com

On some other occasions, remote from other ears, the story had a more bitter taste. As a successful and reliable workhorse, this manager was attracting a bit more workload and more often than ordinary, some delicate problems to solve.

Occasionally I even could hear him say things like “unfortunately I haven’t enough time to find a new job” or sharp criticism about top management, reservation about relationships among the company.

What? This brilliant manager is not that happy with his job nor very confident with a long term commitment? But every sign so far depicted the happy engaged employee!

Therefore my own reservation about trying to assess employees’ engagement through the signs. Among the employees, some may fake their engagement, camouflage their real feelings and thoughts, waiting the best moment for their “coming out”.

I don’t mean to distrust inquiries and studies, this example demonstrates that such assessments need to be done through third parties, with private interviews and anonymous results in order to grasp the true mood and see past apparent postures among an organization.

Comments welcomes.


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