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January is an amazing month for many companies around the world, especially those that begin their fiscal years coinciding with the calendar year.

Budgets are new, many employees are back from holiday and the new year begins in earnest. So, it seems reasonable that it would be a good time to do some annual “goals and objectives” planning for everyone. Of course, if these are annual objectives, I wonder why nobody really starts until the year has started. And let’s be honest, for many, the objectives aren’t even started or finalized until well into the 2nd quarter.

Yay! Already off to a great start.

This is a sad reality, especially given how many organizations brag about employees being their #1 asset. I think for some companies, “#1 asset” is simply a euphemism for “most costly resource”. Oh well, I’ll jump off the soap box now.

In an article on, the author listed 10 key drivers for both employee engagement as well as disengagement.

And like so many marriages, once the disenchantment starts, the disengagement is soon to follow and then we get divorce. And yes, this divorce is expensive too.

So what should employers do about it? I won’t claim to have all of the answers, but here are some suggestions based on the article.

  • Trust is pervasive in the organization.
  • The leaders in the organization really know what they are doing.
  • It feels as though everyone is on the same team.
  • The actions of the leadership support and reinforce the mission and values of the organization.

So when employee engagement is valuable to you, invest in the policies, processes, systems and ultimately culture that make it a reality, instead of suffering from preventable causes of disengagement.

Sure, while scooter-Tuesdays might be a big hit, and free soda for life will attract many a college student, incompetent management will always win out in the end. No amount of M&Ms in the break room, or electric car chargers in the parking lot will overcome an environment of deceit and half truths.
Invest in the core of the problem and things on the periphery will benefit later.