By the Hapkey team

Why employee engagement is the wrong thing to focus on

Post by
Marcus Castenfors
Why employee engagement is the wrong thing to focus on
“Employee engagement and wellness are finally taking center stage in the business world. For too long, they have been viewed as the responsibility of the HR department and not an integral part of business strategy.”

-Naz Beheshti, Forbes


We applaud the tremendous progress in terms of employee engagement. But what if the word itself, “engagement”, is flawed? 

As the quote above states, employee engagement is becoming a high priority. Leaders are starting to realize the importance of measuring and acting on insights relating to the engagement of their employees -- because it’s frankly, good for business. 

But think about the word “engagement” for a second. How do you interpret the word? What does it say to you? Does it put the employee, or, the company at the centre? We argue that the company is the focal point, not the people who are driving the company forward.

If you look up the word “engagement” in the Cambridge dictionary it states:

“the process of encouraging people to be interested in the work of an organization”


Let that sentence sink in for a second. What does it convey? To us, it’s about the organization encouraging someone to be interested in the work. The company encourages you to do stuff. There’s definitely something positive about that. But it also resonates that the responsibility to encourage lies on the organization, rather than the individual. We argue that the individual has responsibility in this, just like the organization.

If you’re an employee, you’re part of a value exchange. You do work, which brings value to the organization through its customers. And in turn, you receive value back through your paycheck and other benefits. 

Imagine, by contrast, that there was another term, a term that connotes a value exchange, a positive loop, a win-win situation. We believe that “employee happiness” is that term. To put it simply, if employees are happy, the company will be happy. 

Our argument is that if people are happy at work, they will be engaged, productive and innovative. There is plenty of science supporting this argument. If people are happy at work, they will bring more value to the organization: a positive loop. 

So, our call to action to you: rather than focusing on engagement, concentrate on happiness. You will be surprised by the results.

Further reading

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