Businesses worldwide have been searching feverishly in recent years for the key to unleashing the power of people in the workplace. The reason is obvious. Compelling evidence from countless studies has shown the commanding competitive advantage of high-engagement cultures when it comes to virtually every relevant business measure – sales, profitability, quality, customer satisfaction and more. While some attempts have been fruitful, deep-rooted employee engagement continues to elude most organizations.
If you’re looking for some novel insights on that elusive subject, check out my new business fable: Getting to the Heart of Employee Engagement: The Power and Purpose of Imagination and Free Will in the Workplace.
The book tells the story of two principal characters. Tom Payton is a human resources and employee communications manager who’s looking for insights on employee engagement, and David Kay, is an enigmatic consultant who guides Tom on a journey of discovery. Their conversations run the gamut from the silly to the sublime, from the humorous to the serious, from the novelty of Barney the purple dinosaur to the elegant wisdom of Henry David Thoreau.
Here’s an excerpt from the book’s Preface on the value that I believe it contributes to resolving the employee engagement challenge:
I’ve always felt a longing to get at the heart—the essential elemental truths—of what gets people tuned in, turned on, and eager to go the extra mile for the mutual benefit of themselves and the organizations they work for. I’m convinced that understanding those truths can help people get past the stumbling blocks that so often derail and discourage efforts to tap into the full-blown potential of employee engagement.
At the risk of sounding a bit lofty, I’ve compared my quest to Einstein’s pursuit of the elusive unified field theory, the Holy Grail of physics. He searched for it most of his life to explain the connection between all of the forces of the universe in a single equation.
When I started writing this book, I wasn’t sure what my single “equation” might turn out to be for employee engagement. It seemed to me that it might be rooted in the uniquely human qualities of imagination and free will, but by themselves, those qualities certainly were not new, and they weren’t sufficient to shed significant new light on the subject.
Then it hit me. The answer is rooted in the intrinsic relationship between imagination and free will that plays out in this fable. The secret to employee engagement lies not merely in our capacity to imagine and choose, but in understanding how those qualities are inseparably interrelated.
That was a breakthrough moment for me, and it sparked a flood of insight about why organizations struggle with employee engagement. It also opened the door to understanding how nurturing the combined power of imagination and free will in the workplace can allow employees to contribute the greatest and be the best that human beings are designed to be.
For those of you who share my passion for the power and potential of employee engagement that transcends the norm, I hope the ideas in this book will challenge and inspire you to explore new ways to create the kind of organization where employees love to work and customers love doing business.
In the end, the book is a tribute to the extraordinary capacity of all human beings to contribute more to the success of the world’s collective enterprises than most people dare to imagine.
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