Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Let's Get Engaged (Understanding Employee Engagement--Part II)

In today's workplace, long-term employment has been replaced with a more fluid situation for workers. The new model is one in which employees stay with their employer until the organization severs its connection to pursue the use of fewer or different human resources. This shift has created a new paradigm for the most desirable employee. The worker everyone wants now is resilient, able to be ejected at a moment's notice, land on his/her feet and tackle a job search with frequency. Oh yeah, and can you smile while you're doing that?

But do these employees exist? To our minds, they are the unicorns of human resources. Most people who want to be inside organizations want exactly that: to be inside. Those who are not interested in that scenario go off to pursue alternatives like self-employment, freelancing or contract work. Organizations are naive when they expect engagement from employees who know they are on the precipice of job loss at all times. It's the old hierarchy of needs thing: people who are fearful that they may lose their livelihood are not likely to be channeling their energy toward internalizing their organization's mission. Nor are they embroidering oaths of loyalty to hang on the walls of their cubicles. Instead they are worrying, networking and trying to keep their heads down and stay below the radar lest the grim reaper of unemployment identify them as next in line.

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