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Shower thoughts:

When throwing a little cleanser at the problem is not enough.

Becoming self-employed came with some concessions. First to go: the housekeepers. Every now and then, I am hit with the reminder: I clean the house now.  As I got out the shower, with the oh-crap realization that I was desperately behind in the bathroom cleaning duties, I dusted the shower enclosure with some cleanser, intent on getting it cleaned later in the day.  As the morning moved into afternoon, and afternoon into evening, I finally rinsed the .10cents of cleanser down the drain.  Sighing, I realized that it alone was not enough to do the work.  The cleanser, being only one part of the equation, still requires the elbow grease, grit, and occasional sentence-enhancer for the more difficult stains to actually clean the shower.


For whatever reason, this entire process made me reflect on employee engagement. Organizations spend tens of thousands of dollars, if not hundreds, to develop actionable, people-centered strategies.  All of this usually amounts to nothing more than throwing cleanser  at the employees, expecting it to be enough.  The most ironic part of all this is that the most effective employee engagement is actually very simple, should be timely, and its completely free!  However, many organizational leaders plan expensive, flashy events intent on making employees engaged, when in fact these are the exact types of events that often backfire.  Consider the case of The Party:

Engagement scores were low again this year for a large service organization.  They had operations across the large city, with each performing specific parts of the overall process.  Despite all of the comments indicating that employees just wanted to feel seen, heard, and acknowledged, the executive team decided that they would host a lunch party at each location.  All of the executive team was expected to be present, serving, and eating with employees at each event across the city.

Each lunch event was successful.  Executives provided, and served, a nice lunch for every employee.  At least one of the executive team members sat at each table where there was robust conversation – even perhaps a bit of vulnerability.  The problem with this approach however is that it was a one-time event.  The following week, a team member ran into the  executive leader who sat at her table.  Providing a happy “hello!”, there was no recognition or acknowledgement of the team member.  This left the employee feeling completely deflated.  She had thought that there had been a good connection through conversation and mutual experiences.  While she didn’t expect to be golfing with this executive, she did relay that a basic acknowledgement would have done quite a bit to ensured additional engagement. 

Not only was this costly in terms of the amount of executive dollars for 14 executives to be present at each lunch, it was a scheduling nightmare, that extended the event well into the following year.

Ultimately, employees just want to feel appreciated.  There is no need for big, splashy, expensive events. While it takes a bit more than tossing some cleanser at employees, engagement is simple, should be timely, and its free!  Just say “hello”!  No scrubbing required.   


Struggling with engagement?  We can help!  We are passionate about making every organization a safe place to be.  #wecandobetter! Join us every month for our complimentary Employee Engagement 10-day challenge, register in the link below.

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