Are all forms of employee engagement beneficial?

Extrapolating from Webster’s definition of ‘engage,’ the author posits that some manifestations can damage an organization, while others help it thrive in obscure ways.

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Engagement is not a one-way, one-size-fits-all answer to the fearsome challenges that businesses face today.

Having worked in business communication for nearly 20 years, I’ve found that treating it as a single objective—subjecting managers to intense pressure to “increase engagement”—is counterproductive, because employees engage in a variety of ways.

Even with big companies such as KPMG openly questioning the value of employee engagement surveys, the pursuit of a singular goal of “higher engagement” has retained much of its popularity. Commonly held beliefs sustain the engagement juggernaut:

A different view

Even though these are common themes, and given that many new definitions offered by gurus in the field reflect those themes, I chose to look for an alternative perspective. Here’s how Webster’s Dictionary defines “engage”:

Building on Webster’s definition, an alternative view of engagement emerges:

Six forms of engagement

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