Employee engagement: An Olympic event

RO Communications

Yvonne Grinam-Nicholson, ABC

Wednesday, August 15, 2012    

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The curtains have come down on the XXX Olympics in London: and what a show. The great show started with a spectacular, resplendent opening ceremony befitting the monarchy and the following weeks were littered with many triumphant winners, disappointed losers and not to be outdone, their hordes of enthusiastic fans. We are all immensely proud of all the athletes who represented Jamaica and for more than a minute we were all glued to our televisions and radios and united in our wish for their victory. Indeed it would seem as if we were all engaged.

But today it's back to work and the only clock we will be mindful of, is not the one watched by the starters for the Olympians in their quest for gold, but the one that strikes ominously at 8:30 am and joyfully at 4:30 pm at our workplaces. After the Olympic excitement we can now thoughtfully survey our offices looking hopefully for the faces of similarly engaged employees. Bear in mind that employee engagement is the connection that people feel to their work that results in higher levels of performance, commitment and loyalty. Alas, you will have no such luck: instead it is likely that we will we see a different scenario, similar to what we just experienced during the past few weeks.

Ardent Fans: Generally, there are persons who are genuine athletic fans and their interest becomes even more pronounced during the days of Olympic fever. They definitely know their statistics and are not a part of the "just come" posse. They know every race Usian Bolt, Yohan Blake and Asafa Powell has ever run, down to the nano-second and you have to admire them. They will have long and strident arguments, parading their knowledge of track and field and other sports. If you are just passing by one such discussion, it gets heated and the loud voices might lead you to believe that that this is the scene from a shoot-out at the OK Corral. Some of them who could scrape up the fare made sure that they were a part of history in London. These people are really engaged. Can you imagine if this level of engagement was translated into the workplace? What you would probably see are employees who have a strong interest in their company: they will know every performance metric of the company. They would have robust discussions about how things could be better run in their company's operations. They know everything that needs to be known about the company and are eager to share their knowledge. Stop them in the corridors of the office and they will reel off statistics about the company's history, the products and business operations.

Band waggonists: There was another interesting set of persons who participated in Olympics, they are the 'waggonists', the 'never-see-come-see' posse who jumped on the train to Olympic train to London a tad late. True to form, the band waggonist, joins the growing movement and athletic discussion in an opportunistic fashion. People who you have never seen break a sweat are suddenly they are spewing sports statistics like nobody's business. Never mind that hitherto fore some of these "new local experts" did not know what a running track looks like: as long as it was happening they were involved, as my friends would say, "up to their necks." If you looked closely enough on your television screen, you might even see them among the many in the midst of the celebratory melee in Half Way Tree, clashing their Dutch pot covers with the best of us. These are the suddenly but temporarily engaged ones, such as you have in your own company. You and I probably know them well, whenever the company is doing well or things are on the ups they are the most vocal of employees. They are true wagonists and so, a word to the wise is sufficient: do not expect their enthusiasm to last too long. Just make sure that you harvest much from the outbursts of the energy that you will get from them.

Arm chair critics: These people are the most pernicious set and I have a personal dislike for them. They are like your typical Monday night quarterbacks who have all the right moves that the team should have taken, naturally long after the games are done and the chairs are all stacked up. They might not necessarily be lovers of the sport but you can trust that they are always negatively critical. Within the workplace you will never hear anything positive from them about how the company is run and how the executives operate. These critics will never speak up positively on behalf of the organisation, they would rather remain silent. They are sadly dis-engaged and dis-interested in anything progressive. Leave them alone.

Yvonne Grinam-Nicholson, (MBA, ABC) is a Business Communications Consultant with ROCommunications Jamaica, specialising in business communications and financial publications. She can be contacted at: Visit her website at and post your comments.





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