Congratulations! You, like so many before, have finally admitted that your organization’s culture isn’t fantastic and most of your workforce isn’t engaged. Maybe those survey results finally came in or maybe you were hired because there is a culture problem. Either way, you find yourself leading the charge to make the organization a better place to work.

As you strive to solve this employee engagement conundrum, you find yourself naturally framing the problem as an “employee engagement” problem. You keep thinking, “how are we going to solve employee engagement” or “what are we going to do to have better employee engagement?” Well, trying to solve employee engagement by solving employee engagement simply won’t work.

A rookie mistake to running a 5k is to think that running a 5k over and over again will make translate to faster times. While this approach has sound logic (practice makes perfect!), it doesn’t work. To run a faster 5k, runners should step back and create a workout plan that involves sprints and longer runs (sometimes up to 10 miles at a time!). When runners result to the mentally easier plan of running the same thing over and over again, they do themselves a huge a disservice. Not only are the missing the actual benefits that come from workout variety, but they also don’t allow themselves to become more emotionally invested in the process.

The same is the case with employee engagement. If we are laser focused on fixing employee engagement – nothing will happen. It’s too easy to say, “We need more activities to engage employees!” It’s like saying “I just need to keep running a 5k and I’ll get faster.” Instead, we have to realize that the journey to increase employee engagement is going to require some 10-mile runs. Employee engagement is a metric for the overall employee experience. To increase engagement, organizations have to step back and think about the overall employee experience and what factors are contributing to a positive or negative experience.

In a recent podcast with nationally recognized diversity advocate and consultant Howard Ross, he likened the workplace to a party. When we try and figure out what is going to make a party successful, we have to analyze a person’s entire party experience. It isn’t enough to just throw a great party. The guests have to feel like they have a vested interest in the party’s success. One way to accomplish this is to let the guests pick the music. The host still picks the venue, the theme, the price, the dress code, and the DJ, but by letting attendees pick the music, the overall investment and experience in the party increases dramatically. To hear more about the need for a great employee experience, listen to the rest of the episode at Forging Employee Experience. Feel free to reach out to Howard Ross at his website or via LinkedIn.

We owe the same level of intentionality to engagement. We can’t simply fix employee engagement. We have to fix the underlying experience. We do this by stepping back and creating a strategy that allows employees to feel emotionally invested in the success of the experience. It is very difficult but is the only way to get real results.