Someone once said money doesnt buy happiness. I suppose a corollary on that is it doesnt guarantee employee engagement either. Salary doesnt equate to employee engagement and ownership doesnt equate to fulfillment.
Singapore illustrates this profoundly. Although Singapores economy has nearly doubled in the past decade making it one of the wealthiest nations on the globe, for most workers, a tragic emotionless existence seems to be the norm. Bruce Einhorn and Sharon Chen write about this sad observation in Bloomberg Businessweek (Singapore Confronts An Emotion Deficit 11/26/1212/2/12, pp. 2426):
Fun City it aint. U.S. pollster Gallup conducts surveys in more than 140 countries to compare how people feel about their lives. Singapore ranks as the most emotionless society in the world, beating out Georgia [the country], Lithuania, and Russia. Singaporeans are unlikely to report feelings of anger, physical pain, or other negative emotions. Theyre not laughing a lot, either. (p. 24)
Now this doesnt exactly suggest these people are in touch with their feelings, does it? Sometimes, you can be so out of touch, you basically just shut down. That further explains why the Gallop research indicates:
only 2 percent of the countrys workers feel engaged by their jobs. The global average is 11 percent. (p. 26)
Singapore painfully reminds us how important employee engagement is, and more importantly how it can be an indicator of emotional and mental balance in a persons life. Many of Singapores educational and municipal approaches tend to deemphasize the individual, thereby exacerbating these negative dynamics. Einhorn and Chen elaborate:
Li Bona, 29, an assistant manager at Changi International Airport, which wins kudos as one of the worlds best, says schools discourage students from thinking of themselves as individuals. When you are taught not to be different from other people, you are less willing to express yourself, he says. So Li and his fellow Singaporeans feel uncomfortable when we try to express what we feel or what we think. Staying emotionally neutral could be a way of coping with the stress of urban life in a place where 82 percent of the population lives in government-built housing. (p. 26)
Anytime, anywhere, anyway people are dehumanized, employee engagement will be at its lowest. Anytime, anywhere, anyway people are humanizedas by definition they should beemployee engagement will be at its highest. Granted, there is much more to employee engagement than that. Nevertheless, fundamentally, these statements are absolutely true.
Although negative examples are not preferred, Singapore tragically teaches us much. Hopefully, in our circles of influence we are continually working toward maximum employee engagement and thereby creating many positive examples to inspire others.
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