Employee Engagement and Company Culture

The future of work is screwed. It’s being built upon a foundation of legacy thinking and outdated value systems. Instead, the future of work should start with a reboot in company culture and employee engagement.

Employee engagement is the next “new” thing. Except its importance isn’t new at all. And all that talk about the coming renaissance of corporate culture and how it eats “strategy for breakfast”…? Stop. Oh and stop citing Zappos as the quintessential example of culture and employee engagement while you’re at it. Your executives will never be like Tony Hsieh nor will your employees feel the great sense of camaraderie and dedication to your company and their co-workers as they do in Downtown Vegas.


The 10 Reasons Your Company is Creating a Culture of Mediocrity Measured by Unhappiness and Low Morale

1. We aren’t actually trying to inspire employees in our day-to-day work even though we say we do.

2. We don’t really know what employees value or how they truly want to work yet we make investments and changes as if we are in touch with them.

3. We force employees through systems, processes, and exercises that were invented in the mid-to-late 20th century.

4. HR should stand for human resistance as policies and reward mechanisms deployed today are practically inhuman when you look at everything through an employee-centric lens or any lens invented after the year 2000.

5. Management talks of culture and employee-centricity because they have to…the real “centricity” is focused on stakeholder and shareholder value. Relationships are a cost center.

6. The Millennial workforce is viewed as problematic when in fact it is the perspectives of analog-first architects who built a management system that is the equivalent to DOS in the personal computing space.

7. Meetings. Seriously.

8. Employee engagement is defined by how companies talk at people rather than listening and adapting to their needs and aspirations…hence morale being at an all time low. It’s not directed by an honest-to-goodness intention or vision for what employee relationships should look and feel like. It’s just a process run by corp comms and HR.

9. Social and mobile technology is deployed at scale forcing employees to use tools that don’t mimic how they communicate or operate outside of the office nor do they operate outside of the norms that are crippling everything else today.

10. Cubicles (and no, open floor plans don’t work as well as we’d like because of all of the above.)

Leaders should lead from the middle rather than the top. You lose your view of the bottom and what it took to get there. Thus, instead of investing in culture or employee engagement, we manage the infrastructure to yesterday’s standards.

Company culture at the moment is defined by something someone once wrote that took edits upon edits to finalize thus losing its soul, spirit and vision in the process. In fact, the acts of getting the vision documented and articulated is a genuine reflection of company culture and that’s the problem.

Employee engagement starts with leadership and leadership starts with actually accepting the culture as it is today is deflated, it’s not a priority nor is employee engagement something that is actually shaped or emphasized in strategy and practice.

Without vision or purpose, we are iterating rather than innovating. It’s time for a renaissance. We need an Undercover Boss moment.

In 2014, Jaimy Szymanski and I partnered with LinkedIn to survey thousands of employees as well as interview many organizations highly regarded for exceptional employee engagement and company culture. The result was a report. In the report, we discovered the obvious, employee morale and productivity soars when its a priority and run with purpose and intention. The results are compelling and serve as fuel for anyone leading the charge toward change.

Engaged businesses are more likely to…

– see employees engage and collaborate beyond existing borders and silos.

– attract top talent.

– be viewed as more innovative and competitive.

– get increased sales leads.

Author- Brian Solis