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A Different Twist on Engagement

The word “engagement” is used by HR professionals in many different ways.  Most commonly it is the feeling of being satisfied in your work and proud of your organization.  But are there other ways to view engagement?

The dictionary definition of engagement is “an agreement to meet or be present at a particular place and time.”  A highly experienced compensation consultant I once worked with referred to the effect of certain compensation programs as “retention hooks” - a way of hooking employees to your organization.  Is this another way to view engagement? 

Unique attractors or “hooks” are items that have significant value and employees give up this value if they leave.  The more hooks, the more committed they are to stay.  If you look at the employment proposition offered by any company, it is the sum of the unique attractions that someone would have to give up to move onto another employer.  Could engagement be broadly defined to be the sum of these retention hooks?  If so, this can broaden how we view engagement and the unique employer strategies to build engagement. 

Some years ago, I worked at a large manufacturing site where we had an onsite health clinic.  For a variety of reasons, we chose to shift the clinic’s focus to basic primary care and incented employees to use this onsite primary care service instead of a traditional doctor in the community.   Including all their dependents!  Think about what that employee considered if he/she were to leave our employment?  Not only would they be leaving the company but they and their family would have to give up their convenient, low cost, primary care doctor who, by the way, generally spent 20-30 minutes with each patient office visit.

My point is each employer has unique and special things they can do to provide retention hooks that lead to improved engagement of your employees.  Think about it.  Be creative.  Be deliberate.  The more unique “hooks” you offer to your employees the more retained and engaged they will be.