Many of our clients are expressing concern over the issue of employee engagement. It's an amorphous issue, but they suspect that their employees are "enrolled"(to use Peter Senge's term), but not engaged. They are worried that while their people are showing up on time, mouthing the right words and smiling at their jokes, all is not truly well. They want their employees to take their relationship with the organization to the next level; they want them to be committed.
The first step in tackling the challenge of engagement is to understand why it's not happening. Engagement means commitment, and, for most, that means a two-way relationship. Until employers begin to invest in workers in ways that matter to their employees, these employees will not engage. It's not that employees don't want to, but they are otherwise engaged right now: they are engaged in self-protection, a healthy response to an environment in which they rightly believe they have no control over what will happen. They will not bond to an organization when they feel the employment bargain is unfair or when they know that the organization stands to sever that connection without cause at some time. Without question, engagement and secure employment (or an employee-accepted version of that situation) are linked.