Everybody knows that e=mc2. We just have no idea what it really means. Einstein does. But he’s a genius.
Let’s try Morrison’s version of e=mc2
Engagement = Meaning x Control (squared)
Let’s break it down. Engagement is what we want in our organizations. We want our employees to be emotionally attached to their work and their organization in a way that brings out their best self. As Gallup research continually confirms, only about 30% of the workforce in the US is engaged in their work. That represents a huge opportunity cost in terms of lost productivity, innovation and discretionary output. So, how do we drive engagement?
It starts with meaning. Until we see our work and our roles as making a difference – we simply can’t be engaged. Unwittingly, organizations fail to create this powerful connection between people and their work. They get lost in hitting the numbers and feeding the demands of the hierarchy. Employees become “dysfunctionally” loyal to bosses instead of benefitting from the engagement enhancing forces of serving others. But meaning alone is not sufficient.
We also need to have a sense of control over our work. Here’s the critical insight. Enhanced feelings of control over our work also create meaning. That’s why so many people leave the corporate world to run a franchise. The deep sense of autonomy and control that comes from being your own boss also enhances the perceived meaning in the work. I may be flipping burgers – but these are Mike’s burgers. That’s why our formula adds the “squared” sign to the control element. That’s a key insight for managers – by giving up a little control – with a bit more empowerment – you are driving engagement.