First up, let me say I believe in employee engagement. I really do. I believe in a simple definition of engagement, though, one that's too simple to really generate consultant revenue, books or anything else that might be of value in my professional life.
Having worked at 6-7 companies in my career, here's the cold hard truth. You can do a lot of stuff right as a company, and people are still going to bitch, to think that the grass MUST be greener somewhere else. That simple, yet profound strand of the human DNA is just too much to overcome to arrive at a place where you could say that you've maximized engagement.
Oddly enough, I've never seen that human need for despair characterized clearer than Agent Smith did when he was getting ready to break Morpheus in the first Matrix. For those of you not down, in The Matrix, machines had replaced humans in a future world and generated computer code to run the minds/imaginary lives of humans while they slept in pods and generated electricity. Here's what Agent Smith said to Morpheus about a failed attempt to generate code to run the human mind:
"Have you ever stood and stared at it, marveled at its beauty, its genius? Billions of people just living out their lives, oblivious. Did you know that the first Matrix was designed to be a perfect human world, where none suffered, where everyone would be happy? It was a disaster. No one would accept the program, entire crops were lost. Some believed we lacked the programming language to describe your perfect world, but I believe that, as a species, human beings define their reality through misery and suffering. The perfect world was a dream that your primitive cerebrum kept trying to wake up from. Which is why the Matrix was redesigned to this, the peak of your civilization. I say your civilization, because as soon as we started thinking for you it really became our civilization, which is of course what this is all about. Evolution, Morpheus, evolution. Like the dinosaur. Look out that window. You've had your time. The future is our world, Morpheus. The future is our time."
It was designed to be a perfect human world, where none suffered, where everyone would be happy. It was a disaster. No one would accept the program. Entire crops were lost.
That's your money quote on broad-based engagement efforts. Do them. I get it, you'll do some good. But never (never!) think that what you do, no matter how progressive/cool/upstream, is going to turn all the people.
We're conditioned to look for misery and suffering. Drama. That's called a +1 in real world.
Play the clip and look around you. I'm rooting for you. Don't let them drag you down.