In life, there are times when you are part of conversations that make you roll your eyes so far back into your head that the possibility of a seizure looms. Such as, which hot sauce is the hottest in the world. No one cares because I’m not interested in setting fire to my mouth in stages. Or, how badly you slept last night. Telling me you woke up at 2 am, 3 am, 4:30 am and then at 6 am is not making me feel sympathetic for you, it’s making me want to throat punch you for subjecting me to this conversation. Or even how much your child is eating and how they’ve moved on to solid foods. Unless the food is going in my mouth, I couldn’t give a shit about what your baby is eating.

Hot Sauce and Baby Talk. Employee Engagement Is A Lesson In Human Behavior.

In business, these types of conversations happen every single day and you find yourself dragged into meeting rooms to discuss the banal, the bizarre and the downright ridiculous. Like what processes we’re going to implement to keep the stationary cupboard clean, or a breakdown of the spreadsheet that tracks other spreadsheets. Most recently, I’ve been dragged into numerous conversations about employee engagement and how to create it. I sit there listening to people present what they think are genius solutions to pissed off employees all while trying to make it into a business art form.

Employee engagement is nothing but a lesson in human behavior. This isn’t a science that needs metrics and tools and apps and god knows what else you want to throw at it because you can’t figure out why Janice in strategy isn’t happier even though you’ve promised her a pay rise in twelve months’ time. This doesn’t need hours of meetings between the board as they try to figure out how to get a better rating on Glassdoor because they’re probably the most disconnected from their employees anyway. And it certainly doesn’t need the thousands of blogs that currently pollute the internet and are labeled something like ‘5 tips to create employee engagement’.

You cannot create employee engagement. It isn’t something that happens as a result of the free fruit bowl you placed in the kitchen. You just have to not be a dick. That’s literally it. It’s that simple. And that’s a lesson that all senior members of staff need to take on, and maybe then they’d understand why their Glassdoor reviews are so shit. Employees might dislike each other, teams might not always get on and there will always be personality clashes within the walls of organizations, but it is the peacocking of senior members of staff that cause dissatisfied and disengaged employees.

Six Months Without Caring?

I know this because I’ve been a disengaged employee many times. Once I was so disengaged I managed to not do any work for six whole months. SIX WHOLE MONTHS! That’s an impressive stretch and testament to what pricks my senior management team were. I didn’t get to that point because Dan in the perm recruitment team won’t pull his weight, I got to that point because management handled themselves badly and with all the grace of a floundering fish.

We’re living in a completely changed world. Technology has altered everything, the way we communicate is different and no one gives a hoot about a hierarchy anymore. Which is not to say one isn’t needed, but managers and leaders and bosses and whatever else they want to call themselves need to be aware that they haven’t been anointed by God and this isn’t the Third Fucking Reich. This is something the recruitment world painfully struggles with, mainly because it’s an industry that absolutely fails to grasp the concept of humility.

Just as business has had to adapt and evolve to prosper in this modern world, so too must leaders and their management style. You don’t get to be ‘better than’. There are times you’ll inevitably be being a dick and someone should be able to call you out on it without ending up in HR.

10 Keys To Amazing Employee Engagement:

  1. Talk to me like I’m a fellow human because your demands have a touch of the slave trade about them.
  2. Actually, talk to me and find out what’s going on with me so you understand a bigger picture.
  3. Get to know me and take the time to learn what works and what doesn’t.
  4. Understand that it’s your job to get the best out of me not the most.
  5. Don’t talk about your money struggles because your position means we automatically don’t give a fuck.
  6. Be humble because your bragging rights were revoked the minute you became a ‘superior’.
  7. Know that a title isn’t a shield against being a total wanker.
  8. Do what you said you would and don’t back out of things.
  9. If you make a promise always keep it, and if you can’t, don’t make promises.
  10. In short, don’t be a dickhead.

Skip The Almond Milk. I Need “Grade A” $h*t.

The rules with which we build personal relationships should always be applied when you’re in a position of authority. All the ways you wouldn’t act with friends or lovers, shouldn’t then be brought into the office. We don’t need conferences on employee engagement and whitepapers on the tips to building an engaged workforce. We don’t even need the free almond milk in the fridge or the Spotify memberships. We just need management to get off their god damn high horse and realize that they heyday of horrible bosses is over and that’s not how you treat people anymore. Understand that and you’ll realize that employee engagement is just another wanky business buzzword that people like to throw around to sound special.


About the Author: Salma El-Wardany, Head of Marketing, Recruitment Entrepreneur cut her teeth in recruitment at a global Plc, Salma El-Wardanyworking in business development to win new clients and accounts into the company. She gave up corporate life in favor of the startup world, specifically recruitment startups.

Salma spends her days advising recruitment companies on their marketing, digital and branding strategies, and how to make their voice heard in an industry that is already overcrowded and full of voices clamoring to be heard. By night, she writes about many things, mainly all the things in recruitment that vex her.

Check out her blog, The Chronicles of Salma or connect with her on LinkedIn.