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The Lie You Are Told About Employee Engagement

Here is what our Psychology Professor told us:

"We do not know if engaged people are more productive because they are engaged or engaged because they are productive. We don't know if people are good at their job because they are engaged, or they are engaged because they are good at what they do."

The idea that if you are engaged, you will perform better is somewhat flawed. Zillions of factors impact engagement, and that is not the food and dance competition HR organises you.

But here is what we know (shown by data): those people who do activities at least 20% of the time (20% of 8-hour shifts) that they love are more engaged than those who do less or none. 20% is the minimum threshold, and it peaks around 40-50%.

And here is the good news! It is highly likely that you don't have to change your job to be more engaged or enjoy it more.

73% of the workforce in the States have the ability to manoeuvre their job to fit them better, however, only 18% of them do. In Psychology, we call that attitude behaviour consistency problem: "I know I can do it, but I don't". So your engagement is on you!

The data also shows that only 27% of the people are in the wrong job. This means that the vast majority of disengaged workers just cannot be bothered and get themselves engaged by finding out what activities they like to do and managing their daily tasks around them.

So here is my free little help that you can start tomorrow as you return to work. Do this for two weeks:

Write a list as you complete your daily tasks at work. One column of your list is the I Love, and the other is the I Hate column. If an activity doesn't cause any of these feelings, don't put that on the list.


I love it when... followed by a verb (not when people appreciate me or I love people).

I love it when I speak in front of senior leaders. Or, I love it when I take complex data and simplify it for others.

We call these read threads or strengths. It is your responsibility to find yours otherwise, you will always belong to the 85% of the workforce that are disengaged. Engagement is not only the job of HR or your managers. In fact, nobody can figure this out for you. You are the only person who knows what you love and hate doing, so why do you expect others to know it for you?

Bad news: If you find no red threads (I Love) for two weeks in a row, look for a new job.

But if you find some, look at them and start doing more of them. Pick a day in a week and do only those, and watch how you will feel at the end of the day.

This is what the most successful people do! They are not better than you at skills or knowledge. They know what activities they love doing and do those at least 20% of the time daily. So start doing yours and take charge of your success, engagement, productivity, and well-being.

Once I did this with my team and the results were rather surprising not only to me but for them too!

PS: I wonder when HR and Talent Development professionals will make an effort and apply this data in their strategies so we can spare the workforce from another hula-hoop jumping competition under the name of engagement.

If you want to find out what you love doing so you don't have to be miserable in your job, I have prepared a course that digs very deep into those activities and teaches you about your read threads:

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