What does the socioeconomic ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement have to do with employee development? Everything.

T&D pointed me to this Business Week article about employee engagement. Why aren’t employees motivated? Writes Dov Seidman, “We cannot “motivate” engagement (or innovation, growth, or succession for that matter); instead, we must inspire the kind of outcomes we want by rooting ourselves in a set of values, being in the grip of an idea worthy of dedication and commitment, connecting around a meaningful and shared purpose, and aligning around a common, deep, and sustainable set of human, societal, and environmental values.”

Although ‘Occupy’ is a conglomeration of many ideas about economic injustice, the overarching theme I’ve interpreted is that of fairness. And it’s not just the people who are willing to camp out in a park to get the discussion going – it’s any employee you talk to in a depressed economy. In a survey, 83% of employees reported that they either do not discuss career goals at work, or only have the discussion once per year. Many have become disillusioned as they watch benefits dwindle while news report indicate millions in bonuses for some CEOs.

I don’t want to start a discussion on the so-called 99% vs. 1%. That argument is for someone else to make. What’s important here is an employee’s perception – whether he or she is valued, connected, and has a meaningful purpose, as Seidman wrote. Are businesses using those key attributes when developing performance goals? Should they? Why or why not?