Why the Millions We Spend on Employee Engagement Buy Us So Little
The Green Apple Podcast does weekly “Green Apple Slices”, where John Garrett and Rachel Fisch discuss a recent business article related to the Green Apple Message. These shorter segments are released each Monday, so don’t miss an episode by subscribing on iTunes or Stitcher.
This week, John and Rachel discuss a Harvard Business Review article, “Why the Millions We Spend on Employee Engagement Buy Us So Little” by Jacob Morgan.
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John: Welcome back to another episode of Green Apple Slices on a Monday morning. Rachel Fisch, how are you?
Rachel: Good! How are you, John?
John: Great, great! The head of Deloitte Bookkeeping Canada, is that correct?
John: You’re like, whatever. I don’t even care.
Rachel: I don’t even pay attention to it anymore.
John: The fact that you even told me that you had a title, you’re regretting forever now because you should’ve just said, “Just say Rachel Fisch” and then it’d be fine.
Rachel: You’ve got my name right.
John: I read an article and I made it all the way through and then I was like, you know what, Rachel has got to read this thing. This one is “Why the Millions We Spend on Employee Engagement Buy Us So Little”. It was in the Harvard Business Review written by Jacob Morgan and he just goes on and he says that the companies are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on employee engagement and yet the scores are still low.
Rachel: I think it’s because like we talked before about the word “engagement” and culture being this out there idea and just trying to really get it into a concrete thing, what is it and how do I fix it, right? And when you’re talking to executives, they’re probably just in fix it mode, what is it and how do I fix it. The attempt is they’re trying to do things to increase employee engagement. The question is, are they spending the money in the right places doing the right things? Is it possible that their view of fixing employee engagement has more to do with an independent little perk? A little adrenalin shot he mentions here. I’ve also heard it as a halo effect. It makes you feel really good for about five seconds and then you hate your job again.
John: Yeah, and you hate your job more than you did before the shot.
Rachel: Yeah, so then it’s the cycle that keeps going over and over again. The problem with a cycle like that is if you don’t break out of the cycle, the employees will catch on to what you’re doing and say, “Wait a minute. I keep ending up lower and lower after these short little peaks,” so how do we put the money doing the right things in the right places to maybe give a longer term fix instead of just these independent little perks?
John: Right, and he calls it the employee experience, is that longer term focus as opposed to the employee engagement, which is kind of a here and now sort of a thing. I think it’s great and it is something that we talked about in the past as well in some other Green Apple Slices of just why should people come work at this firm or at this company.
Rachel: Right, so for you as an organization, what kind of experience can you deliver to employees whether they’re existing employees talking about retention or whether they’re brand new employees? What is it that will draw them to you and what will keep them there? And so, I think it’s really important to make sure — he goes on to talk about what some of these experiential employers are, some of these employers that have been able to successfully deliver these experiences for their staff.
And then a really interesting thing that he did was he basically tied productivity and all of these other measurables into these experiential employers so you can definitely see spikes in stock prices, spikes in productivity, spikes in profit were going up because they’re able to keep their employees engaged through these experiences. And of course, if you’ve got engaged employees, you’ve got productive employees. And so, they’re going to work harder for you too.
John: Yeah. It was great. I also thought that it was interesting how — I guess he broke it down into three environments I guess that matter most to employees based on — he interviewed 150 psychologists, economists, business leaders from all over the world, and these three areas are cultural, technological, and physical. He found in the Fortune 100 various best workplaces lists, over half of those companies were rated poorly by their own employees in at least one of those three areas.
Rachel: Which makes sense because it goes to what he was saying right at the beginning in the introduction, is that people are spending all this money and their numbers still suck. We continue to prove over and over again that employees aren’t happy with these quick, little adrenalin shots. So employers out there, think about an employee experience and not just going to a trampoline park one night.
John: Yeah, so there we go, everybody. Go to greenapplepodcast.com. You can get a link to the actual article if you want to read the whole thing. You have to get back to work. There’s no charge code for this. There we go! Thank you so much, Rachel.
Rachel: No problem.
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