This “Employee Engagement” thing

by Paul Delaney


Employee engagement. You better be engaged. If you’re not engaged you better get engaged. You had better feel this gig deep in your heart and your bones and your sinews.

That’s what this beaten down man heard over and over in six years at a major wireless provider. What the hell is it? According to Forbes magazine employee engagement is the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals. This means the job is more than a paycheck. This means the employee isn’t just there to climb the corporate ladder so he or she can drive people to suicide some day instead of being driven there. Every multinational corporation is obsessed with this concept. The logic is this leads to increased profits and increased returns for shareholders. There are other reasons for the obsession but those just have to be the main ones. Companies ain’t in business to provide satisfying emotional experiences. The top officers in your company may be in some sort of seminar with a speaker with more caffeine in their veins than blood and who quotes the great Vince Lombardis of industry like they were the words of holy prophets. This may be happening right now and trust me dear reader you will hear about it. They will try to get you engaged. They will try to twist your brain and your insides into sweet pretzels so that the goals of the organization are yours and the mission of the company is buried deep in your heart. Touching, ain’t it? Maybe the Jerry Sandusky kind of touching.

I could be completely wrong but for the most part this insidiousness fails. The numbers on this nonsense would seem to back this scumbag of a writer up. I’m not a numbers man however. Why? Why is this nonsense? Well… why in the hell should any of us have an emotional investment in our company’s goals? Why should any of us be in it for anything more than a pay check? I can only speak as a lowly, dirty cubicle prole. I was no engineer or project manager or computer programmer. This is a great country but it can be tough to get by in. Many of us are doing what we have to do. Not all of us can be project managers or computer programmers. We don’t need to be assaulted with propaganda about why you need more than our bodies 8 hours a day or 10 hours a day. Its positively insulting. Does it occur to them how much they are really asking? Does it occur to them the cost to us of carving out a space for the company’s goals in our emotional lives? What it means for sons and daughters and husbands and wives and boyfriends and girlfriends? I suspect this has not been factored into this amoral mathematics.

Its bad enough many of us find ourselves in wage slavery. Work is an unfortunate and lamentable reality. It does harm. There needs to be a focus on harm reduction. Yes, I just used a term associated with needle exchanges for heroin. 8 to 10 hours of our day is enough. Hands off our emotional lives.