Employee engagement is not just about employee happiness or satisfaction. Employee engagement is about emotional commitment to the organization and one’s job. When employees are emotionally invested in an organization, they are willing to make it succeed. Engaged staff have a direct line of sight between the organization’s goals and individual efforts. Employee engagement therefore, drives performance.
A business is taken care of by taking care of its employees. Employee engagement is cultivated in organisations that develop a culture centered on service to the customer and employees. This approach has been referred to as the service -profit chain. From this approach business need to be cognizant that value is created by satisfied, loyal and productive employees. So, what is vital is to create an environment conducive to engagement where employees are happy, productive and passionate about what they do. Once employees feel accommodated as well as having their goals being aligned to the business strategy and can see and measure the outcome of their performance, then business bottom line surges. Engagement is to a large extent that glue that holds the strategic objectives of the employee and the business. Employee engagement also answers to the employees’ value proposition when they ask what is in it for me.
Myriad of factors make up an employee’s value proposition but before delving into some of the very critical ones, it is important to highlight other business benefits of employee engagement. Engaged employees can become business ambassadors who speak highly of the business, hence promoting its branding. Such employees are less likely to leave their organisations. Many of these employees are seeking recognition for their effort and are working towards delivery.
Engaged employees are more open to innovative ideas and new processes. They are always thinking about enhancing the work they do rather than just performing the bare minimum. They value customer feedback and this attitude is a prerequisite for innovation. It is therefore important for leaders to develop and implement effective customer & employee feedback loop. It doesn’t end there though. Effective mechanisms for making sure feedback and ideas get actioned are critically important.
Management has to be aware of engagement drivers in organisations. Engaged employees tend to value and foster connections among their teams. Effective communication therefore, becomes a key driver of employee engagement. A connected culture encourages communication leading to increased productivity. This good communication also increases collaboration and can diffuse and decrease conflict, such commitment to the organization leads to the building of a stronger employer brand hence the ability to attract highly productive employees.
Engaged staff clearly define their expectations as well as the materials and equipment needed to perform their jobs. They also value opportunities to discuss their career progress and growth. They value their job design because their work is paramount to achieving corporate goals. Opportunities for employees to use a variety of skills in a variety of work tasks are also another driver to engagement. Engaged staff are therefore solution driven.
Another essential driver is to get the cooperation of your employees; when leaders live to their part, employees will be determined to live to theirs. Consult employees about their wishes and desires. This also encompasses issues of corporate culture, leadership style and reward and compensation systems.
Further analysis indicates that they are three parts to employee engagement, the physical, emotional and cognitive. The physical is that aspect of engagement dealing with employees’ ability to exert high levels of energy to complete their tasks. Not only does physical aspect work alone, the emotional part is part of the game as employees need to put their hearts into their job to have a strong involvement in it and a sense of significance. So, management issues to deal with employee emotions are a strong building block to employee engagement. Finally, is the cognitive aspect which looks at that state of an employee as they get grossed in their jobs. These three elements require that employees are engaged on each level investing significant energy to complete their work and achieve positive organizational outcomes.
In the past organisations have carried out surveys on employee engagement but such surveys alone have failed to increase employee commitment. Surveys are just a tool and it is indeed only as good as its user. Such surveys may help expose weaknesses in management of employees and customers. Best results are attained if business creates engagement strategies that focus on the results of the surveys and key general drivers of engagement. They should be made part of the organizational integrals to the business just as sales, accounting, marketing, monitoring and evaluation etc. It is vital to focus on a few facets of these drivers of engagement so that the business does not bite more than it can chew. Also choose clearly those facets that fit with your business, market and industry as you define your scope of effort.
Engaged employees are willing to go the extra mile to satisfy customers. Let me conclude with this quote, “To win the marketplace you must first win the workplace.’’
Emmanuel Jinda is the Managing Consultant of PROSERVE Consulting Group, a leading supplier of Professional Human Resources and Management services locally, regionally and internationally. He can be contacted at Tel: 263 773004143 or 263 242 772778 or visit our website at www.proservehr.com