"If you want people to do a good job for you, give them a good job to do."
Once upon a time, passive compliance and ability to take instruction were the main qualities of the ideal employee. But in a knowledge-based economy it is ideas and innovation that matter most and they will only be forth coming from people who want to give them.
Global employee surveys conducted by consultants Towers Watson regularly show that only 20% of workers are fully engaged in their work, which means 80% are giving less than could. Gary Hamel, author of The Future of Management says this can help explain why,
"So many organizations are less capable than the people who work there."
We have never really questioned the fact that business puts money first, but organizations are slowly waking up to the fact that the focus on engagement is not just a passing trend that will be here today and gone tomorrow and that there is a direct correlation between engagement and results. They now need to find a way to balance the demands of human nature against those of the economy, the environment and society.
According to management commentator Simon Caulkin,
"Some basic human desires for advancement through our careers and for security have been sacrificed on the altar of economic efficiency. But there is the price of business too: levels of employee engagement are famously low and, ironically, this has a knock-on effect on the very efficiency for which human nature was sacrificed in the first place."
As Caulkin says, engagement is reciprocal;
"Think of it as the return you get for giving people a job they enjoy, control over how they do it, the belief that it is worthwhile, and managers who respect them and care about their well-being."