Year 2018 is flying fast; the least for employee and employers is to curry the grudge over to the year! Have you ever asked yourself, just how many of the employees in my organisation are really engaged? If you believe its half, you may actually be overestimating the number. But in this incredible time of competing pressures, demand for profitable growth, financial market volatility, political uncertainty, global shifts in workforce demographics and a rapidly shifting technology – a finer point must be put on that core engagement question. Leaders must ask themselves not only “what do employees need in order to be engaged?” but also “what behaviours are we asking them to engage in?” It is time to re-think the concept of “employee engagement.” In fact, I believe the issue of “engaging people well” is becoming one of the biggest competitive differentiators in business. Employee engagement measures employee sentiment on things such as passion and pride – how passionate employees are about their work, how proud they are to tell people where they work, do they believe in the mission of the organisation and do they feel their work is valued and their talents are well-utilised.
Different scholars agree that prominence of employee engagement on corporate performance and retention is highly recognised. Many scholars and writers on the subject of employee engagement have put forward definitions. According to Iddagoda et al., (2016), the concept of employee engagement is widely misunderstood. Other writers such as Saks & Gruman (2014) share the same sentiments with Iddagoda et al., (2016) that the subject of employment is commonly in management circles but is difficult to define and understand. According to Hewitt (2005), the concept of employee engagement involves the measurement of emotional intellect of employee commitment to an organisation. He further affirms that engaged employees tend to be positive and speak positively about their jobs and organisations. One of the writers and pioneers on this concept of employee engagement Kahn (1990) states that employee engagement focuses more on the psychological engagement and experiences of employees at work. Conferring with Hewitt (year), Kahn (1960) suggests that an engaged employee is emotionally connected and engaged to his work and has concern for other employees and their environment.
Companies care about revenue, the quality of their products and services, and whether their customers are having positive experiences. Employee engagement is a proven driver of all three. Engaged employees are also more productive and creative. Engaged employees begin the day with a sense of purpose and finish it with a sense of achievement. They consistently bring high levels of determination, tenacity, energy and resilience to everything they do. They are dedicated to their jobs and it shows in their enthusiasm, inspiration and pride in their work. They become easily engrossed in their roles and time flows quickly for them when they are at work. In contrast, employees with low engagement dread going to work. Their interactions with co-workers are more negative than positive and they sometimes treat customers poorly. They also speak poorly about their company to friends and family, achieve less on a daily basis and have fewer creative moments at work. The attitude and actions of the immediate supervisor can enhance employee engagement or can create an atmosphere where an employee becomes disengaged. Other factors that drive engagement are that employees are treated with respect, that their personal values are reflected and that the organisation cares about how they feel.
According to Townsend et al (2007), there is a correlation between engagement and leadership. Kouzes and Posner (2002) define leadership as the relationship between the leader and the followers. One of the key elements of a “caring” manager is one that drives employee engagement. That is, employees want their managers to care about their personal lives, to take an interest in them as people, to care about how they feel and support their health and well-being. A manager’s ability to build strong relationships with employees, build strong team interaction and lead in a “person-centred” way creates an engaging environment in which employees can perform at the highest possible level. Andrew Cargnegie said: “You must capture the heart of a supremely able man before his brain can do its best.”
According to Haynes (2008), behavioural office environment has a correlation with office performance and productivity. Haynes reveals that for an organisation to attain high performance from employees, it must create a conducive environment to facilitate employee morale and engagement. In other terms, return on investment (ROI) is high on satisfied or content employees, whereas disengaged employees are believed to highly engage in internal organisational politics, which results in low or encumbering performance and low retention of staff. Why is employee engagement important to businesses? It’s simple: to make higher profits. Businesses with more engaged employees perform better. What makes one company more successful than another? Better products, services, strategies, technologies or, perhaps, a better cost structure? Certainly, all of these contribute to superior performance, but all of them can be copied over time. The one thing that creates sustainable competitive advantage – and therefore ROI, company value and long-term strength – is the workforce, the people who are the company. In conclusion, employees are your biggest investment and should bring the greatest reward. Yet even today, in too many organizations, employees are considered as assets to be managed rather than as individuals who can create the next innovation for success.