Exactly when we were falling short of a fancy term to get people going in a workplace, a new contender found its way to the charts – Employee Engagement.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard of these two words in an HR seminar, and then turn it into a facepalm.
Because here is what it means …
Employee Engagement Definition
According to Wikipedia, “ Employee engagement is a fundamental concept in the effort to understand and describe, both qualitatively and quantitatively, the nature of the relationship between an organization and its employees. ”
Basically, how well can you align your goals with those of the organization? News Flash! It’s not about the employee at all. The whole concept finds its way as a motivator to keep up with the job, do as you’re told and hold on to the position.
The cherry on the cake is that it is wholly based on self-assessment. (Once a year)
But, unlike what’s happening in Antarctica, the future is not all grim for us.
What’s the Employee Engagement Hoax
Well, if you were to gaze at the traditional methods, they involved sending out a survey at a specific time of the year asking the most rhetorical questions in play.
- What do you like about your job?
- How’s it going for you?
- Anything you’d like to add?
- Is there something we can do?
Most employees would either look at it with spite. Or, depending on how far the appraisals are, put in the answers that push their agendas.
To add to the charade, organizations following a top-down culture where the management decisions are cumulatively responsible for their team’s “engagement” seemed to focus only on the professional aspects of the job, filling their KPIs with the highest numbers.
Getting real for a second here, do you think employees stay because they have the best boss in the world or because they are happy both financially and mentally?
(See the rhetoric in it yet?)
What is Employee Engagement
Google “employee engagement practices” right now, and you shall find the 10 best practices, 17 must-follow rules, top 14 ways for 2021, and so much more. But, at this point, I can assure you that every single person out there is doing that already. (Not here to be a part of the crowd, are we?)
So, let’s take a step out of the generic world of words and find what employee engagement is really supposed to be like.
William Kahn, the man who defined employee engagement, breaks down the concept into three bite-sized parts.
1. Physical Engagement
Believe it or not, this involves less play and more work. The dimension is used to evaluate the physical and mental exertion an employee puts in the job to feel confident about their energy levels. There is a thin line between being busy with work and being overworked.
2. Cognitive Engagement
Do your employees believe in you and your company? It is a simple yes or no answer but defines the creativity, decisiveness and performance an employee may or may not expend. It’s important to note that the people attached to their work feel happier and motivated to go the extra mile.
3. Emotional Engagement
Fair warning, this one may be a little difficult to crack. It is based upon the employees feeling a sense of belonging with the employer. Everyone needs to trust the mission and at the same time feel trusted with handling it.
But, how do you get it right?
Well, Kahn didn’t just shoot some questions; he also gave some answers. He related these three dimensions with three psychological conditions – meaningfulness, safety and availability.
Or as an HR would describe it – purpose, job security and convenience.
Employee Engagement strategies
Companies with engaged employees grow profits 3X faster than their competitors. If that’s enough motivation for you then, let’s dive in.
First things first, engagement is irresistibly and irrevocably linked to employee wellness and wellbeing. Now, these two facets, as you may know, are not annual events but a sum of year-long activities and initiatives. The good part is that they’re as measurable as they come.
So, as a growing company in today’s changing environment, what you need is a proactive approach. Leave it to the employees, and you shall be looking at months of delay because no one likes co-curricular tasks and everyone loves procrastination.
Think Town Hall meetings, scheduled executive visits, a confidential speaking space, faster acknowledgements and an HR that asks – “what’s going on?” as often as the managers ask about the project status.
Next up is to be the Microsoft Office of your industry. That is to say; your workplace needs to be a platform where employees find what they need and when they need it. It can be anything – professional or personal advice, an additional boost of resources, learning opportunities or, more importantly, a work-life balance.
As per Human Capital Trends 2021, the three objectives of work transformation are increasing quality, inculcating innovation and improving well-being.
With the quality and well-being taken care of, innovation needs to come from within. No, I’m not asking you to meditate (although that’s not such a bad idea).
You see, you already have all the information you need on your employees. It’s just stuck in siloed systems that only care about payroll. With the right analytical tools, you can blend the performance metrics with employee concerns and find that sweet spot of actionable insights.
How to improve Employee Engagement
To make employee engagement a natural process, there are three things you need to take care of –
- Open up the thinking boxes when it comes to the meaning of engagement among your managers and leaders. A small step in this direction could be adding autonomy and a culture of recognition as a part of the KPIs.
- Implement tools and services for employee feedback on a real-time basis. Adjust the working environments by placing an active listener on the other end of the table. Disrupting factors would inevitably be captured, and any retention problems shall fade away.
- Move employee engagement from an HR model to a core business strategy. Implement and propagate all policies enterprise-wide and have the CEO drill down on the employee-centric philosophy.
While I’d love to say it is as modest as that, we all know that keeping an employee happy, engaged and retained is one of the most complex tasks on earth.
I hope this makes it a bit simpler for you.