Hypocrisy – The Engagement Killer


Engagement is a state where an employee is emotionally committed to an organization and its goals. Engaged employees are passionate about their jobs and motivated to do their best every day. As proven in countless case studies and associated research, a company of engaged employees is going to be much more successful than a company of disengaged employees.

In spite of the clear connection between employee engagement and business results, years of research data show very limited improvement in employee engagement scores among the American workforce. According to Gallup’s most recent State of the American Workplace Report, “Only one-third of U.S. employees are engaged in their work and workplace.” This number has seen only modest improvements since Gallup started tracking and publishing employee engagement results in 2000.

Gallup, and many thought leaders on the subject, reference a variety of basic workplace needs as the most critical factors impacting employee engagement:

  • Purpose – Is my work important or impactful?

  • Resources – Do I have what I need to do my job?

  • Respect – Is my work and opinion valued?

  • Development – Do I receive feedback and opportunity to grow?

While these and other factors certainly affect any employee’s perception of the organization they serve, I contend that there is a more profound and fundamental concept that has the greatest impact on engagement within any organization:

Are the professed values of your organization consistent with demonstrated behaviors?

Through our work helping organizations define and develop Intentional Culture Plans, we have discovered many instances where leaders fail to define and/or exhibit the behaviors that reflect the desired or intended values of the organization. I myself once preached that balance was a differentiating value in the organization that I led. In my efforts to sustain my own balance, I often caught up on administrative work activities on Saturday mornings while waiting for my daughter at practice. I soon learned that the flurry of emails I sent every Saturday morning went with the unintended message that weekend work was an expectation rather than an exception. The value I professed was inconsistent with the behaviors I demonstrated—AKA hypocrisy!

Where in your organization might behaviors be inconsistent with intended or expressed values? Do you value collaboration and innovation, yet dictate process? Do you encourage open communications, yet work behind a closed door? Do you embrace accountability as a leader, yet blame others when things go wrong?

If you desire to enhance engagement in your organization, I encourage you to dig deeper than superficial perks or hollow value statements. Develop an Intentional Culture Plan. Dig deep into the behaviors and rituals that reinforce the desired core values of your organization as well as those that do not. With a clear definition of your values and culture, your organization will eliminate unintended hypocrisy and provide the framework to appropriately challenge behaviors inconsistent with stated values. Hypocrisy will drop, engagement will rise, and your business will soar. CEEK a Better Way!


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