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DECONSTRUCTING THE LONE WOLF MENTALITY OF EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT

Us folk in the UK spend, on average, in excess of 49 hours in the workplace each week. That’s more time than we spend with our loved ones – so it’s no wonder that we want our work environment to be a positive one.

Thankfully, over the last few decades there’s been a growing focus on employee experience as more and more businesses appreciate the importance of staff feeling engaged with their work; not just as a ‘nice to have’, but for performance results too. Where we are in the engagement arena now is the result of decades of cultural and societal shifts. The gradual evolution has meant an increase in engagement roles in businesses and proof that this concept has worth.

When we take a deeper look at this space and the role of championing employee experience in businesses, there are some immediate areas that still need to be addressed. Despite the positive connotations the function has, we have found from our experience that it can be quite a lonely specialism to work in – especially due to various misconceptions we found around our roles and employee engagement in general. The challenges that present themselves often include:


1. Assumptions that you are the person who has sole control over the engagement of the entire business.

2. Situations where you need to have some difficult conversations with senior leadership/exec on what to do with engagement.

3. An assumption that all you do is ‘light and fluffy’ people-centric stuff.

While it may be that some of these difficulties are found within most businesses with an engagement function, they may well be unique to different organisations. However, what is a consistent commonality is the ‘intellectual loneliness’ that these teams or individuals face. We must get out of the mindset that a solitary team alone can champion engagement – it needs to be a collaborative team effort across a company.

With that in mind, we have some tips to consider using on how to overcome the challenges of solitude within the engagement space:

1. Find your champions. While there may not be anyone else with engagement in their job title, there will be people in your business that think it is as critical as you do. These colleagues can help to encourage engagement from a variety of angles and can provide valuable feedback on how any engagement activity is going across your organisation.

2. Grow your network. There is power in attending networking events, sharing war stories about what your business struggles are, and connecting with others who may have had the same or similar challenges. We may be biased, but one such group is our own Winning Workplaces by ENGINE LinkedIn network…

3. Align with strategy to prove the value of employee experience. If your efforts aren’t getting the business focus they deserve, looking at business strategy and understanding how engagement fits in is a good starting point. Linking to the strategy is vital when it comes to showcasing the value of the employee experience. It is no secret that a more positive and engaged employee is less likely to take sickness or even leave. When done correctly, the resulting return on investment is crucial to a business.

Employee engagement is an ever-changing and ever-evolving workspace, and it can be incredibly isolating when it comes to playing an active role in driving this initiative forward. Our tips can (hopefully!) make a tangible difference to how we proceed with the movement from within our functions. We all know hindsight is a wonderful thing, however it isn’t until we step back and look at what has happened that we can re-focus on what will be. The world of engagement benefits highly from this concept; sometimes it’s hard to break free of the shackles of ‘business as usual’ and realign to a central idea that can evolve over time.

The key to success here is to get out of the mindset that by rallying our troops we are just delegating our engagement responsibilities onto others. Instead, we need to share the idea that success will come from collaboration across the business. Empowering different departments to embrace this initiative will allow employee experience to be fully embedded within the culture of business. This in turn will earn engagement a seat at the table for people to take note of and employ within their day to day – as well as turning the practice from a ‘lone wolf’ mentality to more of a pack effort.

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