It's Time to Think Disruptive-- Employee Engagement!

Gary Kastenbaum
Posted: 03/29/2012

For some organizations it’s sufficient to simply survey, analyze, and discuss how employee engagement is important to the organization. Clearly these things cannot hurt, but today’s environment demands a more action-oriented approach, one that is simply disruptive! Companies need help in moving their resources to benefit the bottom line now, and not three to five years into the future.

Disruptive employee engagement grew from the concept of disruptive technology pioneered by Apple. Apple single-handedly changed the technology landscape through their products. Disruptive Employee Engagement strives to change how we view employee engagement and more specifically how we obtain it.

As a result of sitting on both sides of the recruiting table as an HR executive and recruiter, it became abundantly clear to me that the recruiting process was rife with challenges. The economic environment has driven companies to be very specific in their needs but the environment has steeped lots of candidates into the pipeline. This has mired down the process for the recruiter and the client company. Clients and companies want superb candidates and that is very understandable. However, companies have lost sight of the value engaged employees can bring to the business. After all, engaged employees are the "Holy Grail" for any business and very few would debate this.

However, the old notion that engaged employees are created is what’s bogging down our thought process and is prohibiting us from moving forward and making great gains here. What would happen if we shift our thinking to, "Engaged Employees are recruited, they are not created?"

From here we open up a new level of thinking.

The disruptive approach calls into play a few not well-integrated concepts, but concepts that are critical to large and small organizations alike.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs are a key part of organizations today, be it Yoplait’s, "Save Lids to Saves Lives" campaign for breast cancer, or Macy’s "Heart of Haiti" program helping artisans recover from the 2010 earthquake. Organizations that are serious about competing in today’s marketplace have a CSR program and philosophy.

These companies also broaden these campaigns through Cause Marketing efforts. These efforts bridge the gap between cause and product. Taking Yoplait as an example, it is conceivable that when customers see two competing yogurts on the shelf they would opt for the Yoplait brand because of their efforts to help cure breast cancer. This combination of cause and cause marketing is another aspect of disruptive employee engagement.

Taking this concept to the next step there are three key lessons to learn regarding disruptive employee engagement.

Disruptive Lesson 1:
CSR programs and cause marketing are explicably linked and drive employee engagement.

Cause based employees are an untapped resource for the job market and to drive your engaged employee organization structure.

From Cone Communications-2010 Cone Cause Evolution Study

Dual-Role of Employees

Consumers are the primary audience for most companies’
cause branding programs, but businesses should be wary of overlooking employees as a key participant in their efforts. Sixty-nine percent of Americans consider a company’s social and environmental commitments when deciding where to work. The correlation does not end once they are employed. Employees who are involved in their company’s cause efforts are much more likely to feel a sense of pride and loyalty toward their employer:

  • 93 percent say they are proud of their company’s values (vs. 68% for those who are not involved); and,
  • 92 percent say they feel a strong sense of loyalty to their company (vs. 61% for those who are not involved).


All indicators lead toward an employee population yet to be tapped that supports your business and your businesses cause programs.

Disruptive Lesson 2
: Engaged Employees can be found amongst those candidates that support your organizations cause programs. They are proud of your values and they are loyal to your company.

Connecting the dots is the next step in the process. Identify your cause programs and values, understand your technical and organizational specification for a role, and bolt on your cause specifications. Move beyond the traditional job specifications to identifying candidates that have a cause affiliation. Request and discuss specific areas where the candidate has been involved with your cause. References should also focus on cause related activities and a true understanding of the candidates’ areas of passion.

Disruptive Lesson 3: Engaged Employees are recruited not created.

Build a recruiting model that embraces your cause profile and search for candidates that have sound technical skills AND a cause orientation. Employee engagement is attainable with this model.

2012 is stacking up as the year for true employee engagement to really drive business success. For it to be successful we must think-disruptive employee engagement!

Gary Kastenbaum
Posted: 03/29/2012

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