The employee-workplace relationship has tremendously changed in recent years owing to the dynamic environmental complexities and technology aided workforce. This has given birth to human resources management issues which has prompted organisations to devise new techniques to address these issues. Employee engagement in the workplace and employee satisfaction has become the core functions today.
Understanding employee engagement
More than thirty years ago Gallup, an American research and management consultancy firm and others had pioneered the concept of the “engagement survey” which used certain benchmarking tools to assess employees’ level of engagement. According to Lauby (2013), employee engagement lies at the intersection of maximum contribution for the business and maximum satisfaction of employees. It’s a sustainable level of high performance that benefits both the company and the employee. Kruse (2012) defines employee engagement as “the emotional commitment the employee has to the organisation and its goals”. Employee engagement is now seen as a strategic priority at most companies besides being regarded as a crucial input for evaluating management performance (Dasgupta, 2015).
Advantages of engaged employees
Employee engagement is mutually beneficial to employees as well as the organisation. Employees achieve a sense of fulfilment by enjoying their work and nurturing their capabilities and putting their best efforts in the jobs assigned. Moreover, engaged employees lead to higher service, higher customer satisfaction, increased sales, higher levels of profit and higher shareholder returns. It boosts the goodwill of the organisation and makes it one of the sought after destinations to work with. Gebauer (2014) concluded a strong correlation between engagement and retention. He concluded that the more engaged the workforce, greater the percent of employees planning on staying with their current employer.
Methods of employee engagement
Traditionally, annual employee engagement surveys were used to benchmark a company’s level of employee satisfaction. Some companies used vendor-provided surveys that claim to be statistically validated ways of measuring engagement (Reilly, 2014). These models focused on few characteristics like leadership, career opportunities and other elements of the work environment. However, they have become ineffective in contemporary business scenario since these models do not produce actionable results. The reason behind the obsolescence of these models are radical changes that have occurred in the workplace. Now the employees operate in a transparent job market where there is a fight for the best talent and most experienced workers. Younger employees have increased the demand for rapid job rotation, accelerated leadership and continuous feedback. This has prompted academicians and business practitioners to develop new models so that they fit the current demand. Some of the newest methods of enhancing employee engagement have been discussed below.
Bersin (2015) suggested five major elements and strategies that work together to enhance employee engagement:
- Make work meaningful
- Foster great management
- Establish a flexible-humane inclusive workplace
- Create ample opportunities for growth and establish vision
- Purpose and transparency in leadership.
These strategies have an edge over the traditional models because they provide a comprehensive idea of improving the work culture rather than focussing on individualistic approach of employee development. According to him an irresistible organization is one that employees would never want to leave.
Hewitt (2012) suggested a model of employee engagement where he gave a comprehensive idea of work experience. It embraces six engagement drivers namely: leadership, performance, the work, the basics, company practices and brand. He opined that measurement reliability and validity are important perquisites of an effective engagement survey.
According to The Economic Times (2016), another advanced form of employee engagement recently observed is launching of K-fit –a cloud based corporate health and wellness platform which leverages the power of wearable technology and social, mobile, gaming and analytics (SMAC) to bring about and sustain positive behavioural changes among employees.
Implementing strategies to engage employees
It is widely acknowledged that although most leaders know the importance of employee engagement but only a fraction of them knows how to implement it. Even though these companies find it daunting to enhance employee engagement in today’s dynamic and technology flooded environment, they can design their organisations by referring to the above stated models which have been framed keeping in mind the current trends. It should be remembered that an irresistible organisation is one that employees would never want to leave. Where the desires of the employees are pre conceived and opportunities provided, there lasts the long term relationship.
- Deloitte University press (2015). “Becoming irresistible: a new model for employee engagement”. Available at: http://dupress.com/articles/employee-engagement-strategies/ (Last accessed on 9th Feb 2016).
- The Economic Times (2015). “Companies need to walk the talk on employee engagement surveys”. Available at: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/jobs/companies-need-to-talk-walk-the-talk-on-employee-engagement-surveys/articlesshow/50035386.cms (Last accessed on 9th Feb 2016).
- The Economic Times (2016). “Employee engagement firm Kwench launches health and wellness platform kit”. Available at: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/small-biz/startups/employee-engagement-firm-kwench-launches-health-wellness-platform-kfit/articleshow/50755752.cms (Last accessed on 9th Feb 2016).
- Aon thought leadership (2012). “Aon Hewitt’s Model of Employee Engagement”. Available at: http://www.aon.com/human-capital-consulting/thought-leadership/talent/aon-hewitt-model-of-employee-engagement.jsp (Last accessed on 9th Feb 2016).
- Lauby (2013). “The Definition of Employee Engagement”. Available at: hrbartender.com/2013/employee-engagement/the-definition-of-employee-engagement/ (Last accessed on 9th Feb 2016).