Have a Heart Attack

Heart AttackI just took an online quiz to find out if I love my wife. I really did. Thankfully, the results came back with a “100% On Fire!” Wouldn’t you know it… I love my wife! This survey confirmed it! Imagine how relieved I was to see the quality of our relationship quantifiably displayed right there on my computer screen. I should take this test every six months or so: If the numbers ever start to fall off, I’ll see the trend and plan accordingly.

It’s silly to think that a test – even a good one – could prove whether or not I love my wife. That’s just plain dumb. But wait: Maybe there’s another way. Might human physiology be able to answer the question? Couldn’t someone track changes in my pulse, dilation of pupils, breathing rate, perspiration, blood chemistry or other physiological indicators? That would certainly give me proof.

Perhaps. Perhaps not. I might get similar readings from bungee jumping! (Well, except for the bladder control readings. Falling in love doesn’t generally affect bladder control like bungee jumping does.)

So how can I be sure I love my wife? I feel it. She feels it. Others see it. But to attempt to prove scientifically this personal and emotional attachment? Not gonna happen.

If you’re interested in increasing employee engagement, this challenge affects you, too.

I agree that surveys are perhaps the most objective method by which we can judge employee engagement. But can engagement really be quantified? Can my love for my wife be quantified? I say, “no” to both.

Here’s my reasoning: Since 2000, The Gallup corporation has been accumulating employee engagement data. As of this writing in 2016, the percentage of engaged employees has hovered stagnantly around 30% since 2000. In effect, it really hasn’t changed. With all of the analytics, all of the data, the advice and recommendations, the workshops, consultants, lectures, books and training videos, employee engagement has flat-lined for 16 years. Why?

I’ll bet you can name every truly engaged employee you’ve ever met. You can feel it. It’s palpable. And it’s not a number. It’s a relationship. But surveys can’t tell us much about relationship. Relationships are subjective, not objective.

To further my argument, Gallup also reports that 70% of variances in employee engagement are due to a relationship – a relationship with the Manager. The better the relationship with the manager, the better the engagement. Interesting, isn’t it? True engagement isn’t objective. It’s subjective. It comes from relationship. And it’s…well… it’s a lot like love.

This is going to sound very uncomfortable to you, but I believe it in my heart: Treat employees as loved ones. Relate. Mentor. Feed. Give. Ask. Serve. Call them on the carpet when necessary.

I believe that a needed revolution in employee engagement will be centered in the arena of love, not objective actions. Most won’t like this kind of talk. But then, this kind of talk is suited only for the strong.

The strong of heart.


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