Having started working with my EEA colleagues and faculty on this concept of Engagement as far back as 2007, I’ve met my share of skeptics, both on the corporate and engagement solution-provider side. On the corporate site, I’ve heard such comments as, “It’s too warm and fuzzy.” From solution providers I’ve heard, “It’s just another buzzword.”
It’s too soon to enjoy a “last laugh” and that’s not my style anyway, but it does give everyone involved with creating the EEA curriculum and certification the satisfaction of knowing how far ahead they were.
While leading organizations have just begun to wake up to the importance of engagement, many are still locked in their respective employee or customer silos and/or are just beginning to identify an implementation model at the strategic and practical level and determine who’s in charge. How exactly does an organization create an enterprise brand that unites all its customers, distribution partners, employees, vendors and communities in a measurably beneficial way? How does one use engagement to achieve specific customer, distribution partner, sales, employee, or other goals that involve people?
Although it’s a simple concept, the engagement framework requires a fresh approach to tactical solutions such as communications, learning, rewards & recognition and innovation, for which many current management and solution providers may not be perfectly equipped. Change requires an investment of time and money – it’s so much easier to do things the way we like to do it. And it might require some solution provides to at least privately admit that certain principles aren’t proprietary; that they will benefit by working with competitors in select ways to create this new field, and that certain concepts don’t have to be “only invented here.”
As signs increase that engagement is taking hold in business in the U.S., Great Britain and now China, organizations and professionals simply won’t have a choice if they wish to maximize their competitiveness. At the macro level, look at the impressive performance of the Engaged Company Stock Index, whose 40 companies consistently outperform the S&P 500 by a significant margin. Look at the extensive research conducted over the years by the Conference Board, Towers Watson, Hay Group, Gallup, Sirota and many others showing the link between employee and customer engagement and financial performance.
As the focus on engagement as a competitive edge invariably increases, more and more executives and managers will be called upon to explain what they’re doing in their organizations and departments to strategically benefit from this new approach. These companies already are turning to their advertising and marketing agencies, human resources, incentive and recognition companies in search of new ways to engage customers and employees – but what does this really mean? Engage who for what and how? Are these traditional solution providers even properly equipped or trained in this new field in which consumer and employee engagement is linked and in which traditional branding, assessment, communications and other tools are integrated instead of siloed, and in which ROI is a major driver?
To bring order and science to this new field has been the overarching objective of the several dozen supporters of the Enterprise Engagement Alliance for the past six years. These impressive contributors, at the front lines of academia, marketing, human resources, economics and data analysis, wanted to ensure that engagement didn’t become simply another platitude or that anyone could just add a line to their organization’s website saying they “do” engagement.
The contributions by our authors and sponsors is now getting the best reward of all – the satisfaction of knowing they were ahead of their time and helped create what is to date the most formal and practical approach to implementing engagement both at the strategic and tactical levels with consumers, distribution partners, employees, vendors and communities.