Understanding Employee Engagement

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Design Thinking for Customer Experience

Employee engagement has been the buzz word for some time now as is evident in its ranking as the top 2 focus areas in Deloitte’s HCM Study in 2015 and 2016. Organizations are increasingly understanding its importance in driving business performance and continuously look at ways to boost the engagement levels in their organization. While the connection between employee engagement and business performance is getting highlighted, it’s important to first fully comprehend what employee engagement means. For instance, a common misconception is to view employee engagement as another word for employee satisfaction.

That, of course, is not completely true. While yes, employee satisfaction is crucial to drive employee engagement, the latter is more holistic, encompassing a few other factors. According to the IBM Kenexa High Performance Engagement model, employee engagement includes four components, namely, Satisfaction, Advocacy, Commitment, & Pride.

Let’s deep dive into each of these 4 elements to understand employee engagement better.

Satisfaction: In order to be engaged, an employee must be satisfied with the job they do, and the company that they work for. This often happens when the job that an employee is doing is aligned to his/her both interest & aptitude. Moreover, employee satisfaction is also determined by an organization’s efforts to make its employees happy. This is a critical component for employee engagement because unless the employees are satisfied and content with their professional life, it is unlikely for them to put in any discretionary efforts.

Advocacy: The employees of an organization are the greatest & most effective brand ambassadors of that organization.  It is important that employees like to advocate the organization they work for. If this is an aspect which is well taken care of, then all employees, and not just those in sales & recruitment, could be the champions to build confidence in both potential clients & talent for the organization. Employee advocacy is instrumental for the organization to develop its brand. Also, it is quite distinct from employee satisfaction. For example, an employee working with an internet service provider might be very content with his/her job because they can come in late and leave early and that nobody critics his/her output. However, if the same individual were asked to suggest an internet provider for his/her friend, it is unlikely that he/she will recommend his/her own company. This would be because he/she doesn’t have faith in the company’s focus on quality. Hence, it is crucial that employees are not just satisfied, but also are advocates of their company.

Commitment: At times employees are happy in the job that they are in. However, they still look out for other options. This brings in an element of instability in the workforce because the organization can never be sure if one of their key resources will quit, say, in the middle of a project. This is likely to happen when there is no strong motivator holding the employees back. For example, if pay is what is responsible for an employee’s satisfaction, another company can easily poach him/her by offering a higher salary. Hence, it is crucial to always be in sync with the commitment levels of your employees, and build your own employee value proposition for each employee.

Pride: It is important that employees take pride in working for the company that they do. This is critical because this links with & boosts all the other 3 aforementioned elements. When an employee feels proud to be associated with a company, they are likely to be satisfied, likely to advocate the same to others, and stick with the organization longer. Employee pride also leads the employees to be more driven towards achieving greater results for the organization. For example, suppose an organization is known for launching innovative solutions which are state of the art. Employees are likely to feel proud to be associated with such a brand. They are also likely to keep up the organization’s reputation of being innovative by directing their own efforts in that direction, thus, leading to discretionary efforts.

In conclusion, employee engagement is critical for performance. Numerous studies have listed down myriad ways in which employee engagement accelerates business results. However, whenever an organization is looking at improving their employee engagement level, it is important that they look at all these four components together. It is only then that organizations can translate employee engagement into business results.

Footnote: https://www2.deloitte.com/in/en/pages/human-capital/articles/introduction-human-capital-trends.html



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