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Are your employees engaged?

  • Published at 11:09 pm November 27th, 2018
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10 concrete steps to create employee engagement

Are your employees happy? Perhaps. Do your employees feel their happiness? Tough to evaluate. 

Most essentially, are your employees really engaged? This question matters, because we all want a happy and motivated workforce which is also being engaged. 

Employee motivation deals with the expectation of getting something. Employee engagement is something different -- it is about connecting individuals with the organizations. When employees are connected, they share common philosophies and understand what it takes for the company to make it successful. In fact, engaged employees are concerned for organizational success and are willing to make things happen to help the company get there.

Thus, it is very possible that employees might be happy but not be connected to the organization. Employees who show up regularly, do their job, and go back home are likely to have the least interference while doing their jobs. Are they happy? Yes. Engaged? No. 

Furthermore, some employees are extremely motivated by financial gain, employee perks, or benefits. Possibly, they might be even motivated to get new roles and responsibilities to eventually be promoted. Actually, they are motivated to do what they want, which is not necessarily best for the company. 

In all cases, employees can be outstanding performers, but they will not go the extra mile for the betterment of the company.

Is employee engagement necessary?

According to Gallup’s survey on 155 countries, on average, only 15% employees are engaged at work. Furthermore, 85% of global employees are not engaged at work, which suggests that the majority of employees are in a job with a lack of motivation, and are not putting their discretionary efforts in organizational outcomes.

Existing literature demonstrates several reasons why an engaged employee can perform better than an unengaged one. Three critical reasons are discussed. Firstly, as engaged employees hold positive emotions which enhance their confidence and optimistic attitude towards work, they may perform better. 

Secondly, engaged employees have more physical resources which lead to better performance. Thirdly, according to social exchange theory, when employees receive economic and emotional resources from the organization, they realize an obligation to respond and repay the organization due to the “rules” of exchange philosophy. 

How can organizations make their employees engaged?

Employee engagement is related to meaningful organizational outcomes -- level of engagement is a great concern to organizations. So, what are the factors that might enhance employee engagement? There are ten factors affecting to employee engagement. We can call them the “Ten Cs” of employee engagement.

Connect: Managers must give significance to their employees so that employees feel valued. Employee engagement is the reflection of how they perceive their connection with the boss. If the managers-employee relationship is fractured, no amount of incentives can persuade employees to perform their best level.  

Career: Managers should provide a meaningful and challenging task to their employees that create prospect for the advancement of employees’ careers. In fact, career advancement opportunities intrinsically motivate employees and abate burnout; they may lead to higher employee engagement.

Clarity: Managers must communicate a clear vision to their subordinates. To make the organization successful, employees should know their goals, why these goals are important, and how can they be achieved. 

Convey: Managers need to give constructive feedback to employees in a way that creates the opportunity to get useful information on their performance, which may help them to improve, learn, and develop while performing the job.

Congratulate: Employees always perceive that they get immediate feedback when a thing goes wrong or for their poor performance. However, they get less appreciation or recognition for their best performance or effort. Exceptional managers motivate their subordinates by recognizing their good performance.

Contribute: Good managers help employees feel and see how they are contributing to accomplishing organizational goals as the connection between employees’ job-related behaviours and organizational strategies have a positive effect on engagement and job performance. 

Control: Employees feel good if they are valued and have control over the pace of their jobs. Constructive leaders can create the opportunities to involve employees in a decision-making process, especially when the decision is directly related with their interest.  

Collaborate: Literature shows that when employees work in a team and have the trust and collaboration in team members, and are cared for by their co-workers, they will be highly engaged towards work. 

Credibility: Managers should always strive to keep the organizational reputation and image that make employees proud of their jobs and contributions. Organizational credibility is an ongoing process by which organization members can build loyalty and express their concern for the organization’s success and well-being.

Confidence: Managers should also create confidence in an organization by setting ethical and moral job standards. Employees with a high level of confidence about their company might have a high level of engagement during their role performance.

It is high time for managers and organizations to understand that employee happiness and employee engagement are not identical. Moreover, employee engagement cannot be achieved through forcefully or applying copy-pasted approaches from somewhere else. 

Instead of seeking employee engagement for self-centered motives, enhance engagement to ensure the well-being of your employees which, indeed, lead the positive outcomes of an organization.  

Alima Aktar, PhD, is Assistant Professor of Human Resource Management, School of Business, University of Asia Pacific.

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