Engagement, the latest buzzword.
Employee engagement.
Client engagement.

What exactly is engagement? And which is more important, Employee or Client?

When one thinks of the widely accepted societal meaning, it brings to mind a couple that is engaged to be married, that have promised themselves to each other.

How, then, does this equate, if at all, to the current organisational colloquialism?

Taking a look at some dictionary definitions, an engagement is:

A formal agreement to get married, the duration of an agreement to get married or “a good long engagement to give you time to be sure

Alternatively; an arrangement to do something or go somewhere at a fixed time, “a dinner engagement”

Or; the act of engaging or being engaged, participating, taking part, sharing, partaking, involvement, association

Or; a fight or battle between armed forces. “the war’s most significant engagements were fought to keep these sea lanes open”

The word, of French origin, means, in the general sense, ‘a legal or moral obligation.

How does that then equate to communication and, more importantly, to employee and management interactions?

An employment contract constitutes a formal agreement.  Not quite ‘till death, us do part’, but pretty much a commitment to loyalty. Moving on from there is the added commitment to ‘do something’, aka fulfill the basic duties of the job description.

However, it is the last two definitions that really got me thinking…

‘The action of being engaged, participating, taking part’. This is not part of the job description, it is a passion, it is a belief, it is the desire to be a part of the culture of the company.

And finally:

‘A fight or battle between armed forces’.  Business is not for the faint-hearted and loyalty is hard to come by. Therefore, understanding the fight for market share, the key differentiators and the core values of the company is what sets it apart.

An employment contract should, therefore, be viewed as more than just a legal obligation, and therein lies the truth of engagement.  The core strength of any organisation is the unequivocal buy-in from employees to the company’s values, guarantees, and culture.

In the words of Richard Branson, “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”