I recently gave a keynote address in Brussels, Belgium and took some time off to visit the Basque Country in Northeastern Spain. It was there that I got to hike many miles of the famed Camino de Santiago, also known as “The Way of St. James.” Tens of thousands of people have trekked this pilgrimage path as a retreat for spiritual growth and as a method to re-engage in their life purpose. The journey ends at the beautiful shrine to St. James the Great in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, in western Spain.
I used the journey to be reflective and to learn from my climbing companions how Spaniards view employee engagement. Two core findings stood out that I wanted to share with you:
1. Employee engagement is called “compromiso,” which literally means to “get engaged,” identical to the commitment one makes when they get engaged to be married. Indeed, much like marriage, engagement is a solid commitment, as well as a two-way street.
2. Employee engagement levels are higher in Spain than the rest of Europe.1 My hiking companions confirmed one of the reasons why: employers in Spain are much more sensitive to providing workplace flexibility, especially as it relates to letting people have ample time off for summertime vacations, decompression, stress relief, and reflection.
Given that job stress and a lack of work/life balance are the single biggest reasons that people resign, many a company in the rest of the world can learn from Spain’s example.2
2. 2011: HR Solutions, Inc.