Employee engagement is an important measure for many organizations. It does provide an indicator as to whether employees are willing to go the extra mile in their work, something that is only driven by passion and meaning in what you do.
However, in today’s business environment it is not enough.
Why? Customers don’t really care how engaged you are in your work unless your are providing them with something valuable.
It reminds me of a trip I took to Paris years ago. My wife an I decided to catch a train from the Gare de Lyon to the south of France and I needed some help to get on the right train. Recognizing an information center, I walked in to find it empty apart from 3 staff at the counter.
Now my french is not as good as it should be (having a French mother!) but I could understand that the 3 staff were passionately discussing their weekend. This went on for about 3 or 4 minutes while I stood patiently infront of them. When there was finally a break in the conversation I tried to get their attention. One of the employees finally begrudging came to answer my questions. Ironically she refused to speak English so I was forced to muddle my way in French to finally get the answers I needed. It reminded me of the quote:
“This job would be perfect if I just didn’t have to deal with customers”
Now I recognize the french have some of the lowest scores for customer satisfaction in the world but my point here is that these employees were fully engaged in their work, no question they seemed very happy to be there. However they had not connected their work with their real reason for being there, to serve customers.
I am not against employee engagement but the goal needs to be higher than that. Employee engagement must intersect with customer engagement for it to be a worthwhile initiative.