Last summer I was spending a lot of time at the hospital. My husband had had a serious stroke and so my days were spent largely going to and fro, admittedly in a bit of a haze. I didn’t have time to notice too much of anything outside the small sphere of my personal concern but there was one thing that stood out, one thing that I noticed each morning as I walked past. The Hospital Human Resources Department had changed its name to The Employee Engagement Department.
Now, four months later, my husband and I go back to the hospital from time to time. Each time I see that sign, I wonder what they might be doing differently now that they weren’t doing when they were called The Human Resources Department. And it started me thinking.
It is easy to change a name but not so easy to live up to it. In the case of the hospital employees, I wondered what their experience was like working under the newly popular umbrella of Employee Engagement. Did they feel more engaged or involved? Were they happier? Were their issues and concerns being heard more than before? Were their opinions being sought out more often? Were their teams more functional and productive? Did they feel more energized and valued? Were the hospital’s costs better managed or the patients’ experience enhanced?
Of course I don’t know the real answers to any of that except to say that my short observation of this particular hospital staff led me to believe that not much had appreciably changed in the way they went about their daily work life.
And perhaps that’s the point. You can change the label on something but it won’t make the substance of it any different unless you a do something differently or introduce something new. Simply calling it something else just doesn’t get the job done.
So maybe there are a couple of ways of looking at this. Do you change the name first to create a mental visual around what you want to achieve? Or, do you re-label only when you can be satisfied that what you have to offer bears a reasonable resemblance to the name you give it?
I’m kind of leaning to the latter here. After all if you take a cherry pie and label it “apple”, it may resemble an apple pie from the outside but unless you change what’s inside, it’s going to stay a cherry pie no matter what you call it.
What do you think?
P.S. If you really want to know more about employee engagement you should check out David Zinger’s blog. He provides lots of good and useful information to those who really want to inspire people to bring their “A” game to work.