Confusing Employee Engagement with Employee Effectiveness
Every company wants engaged employees. They want people who are willing to stay late, who skip lunch to get a project done, and who check email past closing time when needed.
All that is well and good, but you also have to examine what all this work and effort is achieving. Some employees are engaged but not as efficient, which is what leads to their staying well past quitting time each evening. (Of course in many cases these employees are just doing what they have to do based on workload or staffing levels.) However, overlooking those employees who are extremely effective but may not be the first ones to volunteer to run the company bake sale or who leave at 5pm on the dot is a mistake.
Let’s also point out that just because an employee is committed to work-life balance does not mean they are not engaged! Recognizing employee effort over results will only ensure that your most capable employees do become disengaged as they are passed over in favor of those who put in the most face time.
It’s also important to note that a healthy work-life balance will only make for a better, more productive employee. Think about how much more refreshed you feel at work when you’ve gone home on time, had a healthy dinner with your family, watched some good TV, and gone to bed at a decent hour. Let’s contrast that with a day in which you stayed at work until 7pm, scarfed down some fast food on the way to the train, and tumbled into bed at midnight knowing you have to wake up in 6 hours to do it all again. Are you really going to do your best work that next morning?
Employees who are effective within the time allotted for the workday should be recognized and encouraged to continue doing so. Perhaps they are so effective partly because they place importance on life outside the office. As a manager you should try to find ways to encourage your employees to invest in quality both inside and outside the company’s walls—they will only be more engaged as a result.