One of the best movies to watch to understand why employee engagement is important is Office Space. If you haven’t seen it, here’s a summary: an employee named Peter hates his job, and with the help of two other unhappy employees plots to take revenge on the company. One of the most important quotes from the movie comes when Peter is talking to his boss: “The thing is, Bob, it’s not that I’m lazy, it’s that I just don’t care.”
And that’s the truth about employees so much of the time. They aren’t lazy, they aren’t uneducated, they aren’t untrained – they simply don’t care. So how can you make them care? Here are 5 simple things you can learn from the movies.
1. Hire the Right People
Employee engagement can be hard – it’s even harder when you’ve hired the wrong people. While you probably don’t want to follow exactly how Mark Zuckerberg went about hiring employees in the Social Network (all-night hackathons aren’t for everyone), you might want to take a page out of his book by considering factors outside of a candidate’s resume.
2. Diversity is Ideal
Maybe you don’t immediately think of Monsters Inc when you think of workplace movies, but we can all learn a thing or two from those monsters. That workplace is full of diversity – all kinds of monsters work there, in all shapes, sizes, and colors. And the company is all the better for it! And you can bet that company has an awesome corporate culture.
3. People Leave People
One of the reasons to focus on employee engagement is to reduce employee turnover, and part of reducing turnover is understanding why people leave. And the movie Up In the Air teaches us that people leave people, not companies. Watching George Clooney work as a professional downsizer is a great reminder of this concept.
4. Valuing Your Employees Increases Engagement
While there are definitely downsides to working for Ingen, the company in Jurassic Park, you have to admit they value their employees! They even feature their employees in parts of the rides and entertainment in the park. And aside from the notable exception of Dennis (the programmer who tried to sell company secrets) the employees are loyal to the company, even in the latest movie Jurassic World.
5. Motivation is Key
Returning to Office Space, we underestimate the power of motivation. Another quote from Peter shows us why it’s important to properly motivate employees. “That’s my only real motivation is not to be hassled, that, and the fear of losing my job. But you know, that will only make someone work just hard enough not to get fired.” Unless you actively try to motivate employees, the only real motivation they have is to not get fired. And employees whose sole motivation is working just hard enough to keep their jobs are not engaged – they are barely even employed.
There’s always room for improvement when it comes to employee engagement, so keep your eyes open. And if you want to learn more about employee engagement from the movies, there are so many other movies you could watch, from classics like His Girl Friday to newer films like the Wolf of Wall Street. Just keep in mind that movies do tend to exaggerate things, so don’t follow their lead too closely!