Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Employee Engagement - A Driver for Business Strategy

Employee Engagement is defined as “the extent to which an employee commits to work or something in the organisation, how hard he/she works and stays in the organisation out of that commitment” [SHRM] However, we often use the word Employee Engagement interchangeably with Job Satisfaction and measure the employee’s engagement level. Job Satisfaction is basically how the employee feels about the nature of work he/she is doing, work environment, pay or benefits.

There exists a relationship between organisational strategy and employee engagement. It has been researched and proved that employees who are engaged in an organisation perform better and as a result contribute more towards the business strategy. Engaged employees work harder, are more loyal and likely to go extra mile towards the organisational objectives. They believe in the vision and mission of the organisation. The engagement of an employee is ‘Emotional’ i.e. how they believe about the company or the leadership and ‘Behavioural’. This behavioural factor is shown as how much effort the employee is putting towards the organisation which can be in terms of energy or time.

Here, while talking about the Employee Engagement, we should start differentiating between Engaged Employee and Actively Disengaged Employee. Engaged employees work towards the goals of the company while actively disengaged employees just come to the company and are more busy on acting out their unhappiness.

As what SHRM describes, the levers of Engagement can be characterised by Vigour, Dedication and Absorption. Vigour means filled with high energy and passion, Dedication refers to a sense of pride and inspiration towards work and Absorption defines the feeling of happiness and engrossed in the work without being detached.  Employee Engagement is greatly influenced by the reputation of the organisation, its culture and also its internal communication. Internal communication is essential as the employees especially Gen Y believe in the values of trust and transparency as discussed in my earlier blog. It is often believed that ‘Culture’ is a soft lever. However, employees are far more engaged where there is a culture of innovation, job enrichment and safety. Culture is established through the organisation’s reward and recognition programs, its policies on work-life balance and the opportunities it provides for the career development and growth.  Engagement is heavily dependent on the Manager-Employee relationship as it is widely said “Employees don’t leave organisation, they leave managers.” The managers create the bridge between the employee and the organisation.

Now the question arises that how do we measure the employee engagement?

Organisations are widely using employee satisfaction surveys, focus group discussions and surveys. Out of these Gallup’s Q12 is the favourite and widely used employee engagement indicator tool. The common themes that are used for employee engagement measurement are: Job Satisfaction, Pride of working with the current employer, Learning and Development, Reward Programs, Relationship with the Manager, Understanding of the organisation’s Vision & Mission and Intention to Stay in the organisation.

As discussed in earlier blog Employer Branding plays a pivotal role in attracting the right talent. With the Gen Y workforce, organisations have to create more employee friendly and innovative workplace culture along with emphasising more on the so called softer elements of HR viz work life balance, job quality, flexibility, diversity, career pathing and freedom at workplace. These are the new factors which have to be accounted for getting the right talent and the engaged employees.

Like the Doctors, HR Managers should keep on checking the pulse of their employees so that they get to know the probable gaps which need to be filled before these gaps collapse and lead to attrition.   

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