TED Conversations

Niel Jacobsen

This conversation is closed.

Could stronger employee engagement mean that managers don't have to lay off employees?

A flurry of comments on LinkedIn followed Simon Sinek's latest TED talk, with 400 taking part in the first day. I may be naive, but was there some consensus the importance of engagement?

I found that the biggest challenges for business; retaining talented people, improving productivity and finding better ways to do things can be achieved when people are actively engaged.

Research and practice show that becoming an innovative, engaging and productive workplace is complex and multi-faceted. One area where I am noticing a positive trend in these uncertain times is that good leaders are moving from Transactional Engagement (buying support) to Transformational Engagement (fostering positive contribution).

An interesting study by Kingston University’s Centre for Research in Employment, Skills and Society (CRESS) found that; "Transactional engagement was identified as being shaped by the employees’ concern to earn a living and to meet minimal expectations of their employer".

By comparison Transformational Engagement (or as CRESS describes it, emotional engagement) was about "the desire on the part of employees to do more for the organisation than is normally expected ... and in return they receive more in terms of a greater and more fulfilling psychological contract".

Clearly, doing more than is normally expected would see the employee applying discretionary effort. A "fulfilling psychological contract" could be interpreted as balanced Employment Proposition.

In reality, it is important to understand both requirements - minimal expectations (transactional) and the drivers of discretionary effort (transformational). What do you think?


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Mar 28 2014: The thing I find interesting here is that nothing is new, words and phrases may have changed, yet we continue go over old ground. So why don’t we become better leaders, business people and have a more engaged work force.
    IS it because the market becomes more competitive and we have less time? Wouldn’t it be nice if all people in our business believe what Simon Sinek’s preaches? “People who work for your money will take you money, people who believe what you believe will work for you blood sweat and tears”

    • Mar 28 2014: Here is my take.

      Too much money is in too few hands, and consumer debt is maxed and not growing. This has bot a serious cap on revenue.

      Unable to get revenue growing, corporations are forced to focus on cost reduction. Fewer employees working harder and longer hours for less pay.

      How do you get your employees to go along with working harder and longer hours for less pay? You try to convince them that it is more than just a job. Engagement. Give them a psychological reason to work harder and longer hours for less pay, for some silly sense of teamwork or accomplishment.

      You know... we're all in this together, except stock holders and senior management that will reap huge reward from conning you into working harder and more hours for less pay.

      In the end, it is self defeating. Businesses cutting costs via lay offs and pay cuts simply puts less money into the hands of consumers, and therefore, less revenue for corporations. It is a negative feedback loop. Lower wages causes less spending causes lower wages....

      Screw that.

      SHOW ME THE MONEY!!!!!!

      That is what the stock holders are saying. That is what the CEO and other executives are saying. And it should be what the rank and file employees should be saying!

      If you do not have a bonus tied to performance, and you buy into this engagement thing of working harder for less pay, then you are part of the problem, not the solution.
    • thumb
      Mar 30 2014: I agree Ivan,
      Good leadership is vital to all the comments so far. Where are the leaders that can inspire others first and think about the bottom line second. Surely, if inspiration is the first level priority, business benefit should follow.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.