By T.N Radhakrishnan
(HR generalist with three decades of experience across companies like Nelco, Lupin, Datamatics, Standard Chartered, UTI AMC, etc.)
Employee engagement is aimed at improving the overall effectiveness of the organization through the collective participation of employees in the management process. The very term employee engagement relates to the level of commitment of the employees to the organization and its productivity.
Gallup organization has done extensive study on engagement levels of employees. As per Gallup, there are 3 levels:
- Engaged employees: Work with passion and feel a profound connection to their company. They drive innovation and move the organization forward.
- Not engaged: Employees are essentially “checked out.” They sleepwalk through their workday. They put the time in, but not energy or passion.
- Actively disengaged: Employees are more than unhappy at work. They make their unhappiness known, too. Every day, these workers undermine what their engaged co-workers accomplish.
Organizations with a high level of satisfied employees will only help to sustain the growth whereas organizations with higher levels of employee engagement will help in accelerating the growth of the organization. In organizations with a higher level of engagements, one can see that there is tremendous support of supervisors, overall cohesiveness, strong and open communication channels, robust performance and reward management processes, career advancement programs coupled with good succession planning processes in place.
Organizations that aim at engaging employees will have to assess the engagement levels periodically through engagement surveys to see as to where are the gaps and continuously work on those areas that need improvement to attain the desired level of engagement.
While satisfied employees will show up every day and work to the satisfaction of the superior, an engaged employee will run that extra mile to ensure a superior level of performance with the least supervision. This can happen only through a continuous effort of the organization to bring in self-esteem amongst the employees and make them feel part of the organization.
I find a lot of organizations indulging in various initiatives such as conducting birthday parties, celebrating some events, festivals in the guise of employee engagement initiatives. They may not achieve the desired results unless they are strategically planned and designed. Employees may participate in these events with no continuity and will end up as fun at the workplace. There are organizations, which continuously work on the rewards and recognition programs conducted periodically so as to ensure that consistent and superlative performers are recognized in an annual award ceremony. These kinds of events, which are not one-off kind of events, may help motivate the employees to participate in the process throughout. I have seen organizations putting in serious efforts to inculcate specific organization values and recognizing the employees for exhibiting those values by assessing the employees. In one of the organizations, there was a system of alphanumerical rating for the employees (alpha for values and numerical rating for the performance). It also ensured that managers with the highest employee engagement scores (as per a survey by Gallup) were considered for leadership roles thereby emphasizing the importance of employees. There were cases of managers with lower engagement scores were also viewed seriously. In other words, the organization made it very clear that one does not take the people along with them will not grow in the organization. Winning the trust of employees is key to the success of the organization.
Employee engagement initiatives should ensure the employee’s participation in the management process. I am afraid, most of the organizations do not link their initiatives to the business, and there is tremendous scope to put in significant efforts in this area. An organization with a large percentage of engaged employees not only sustain in the business for long but also grow enviably.
We, at the Confluence group, have an experienced team of professionals and industry experts who have either helped the organizations at leadership levels or as consultants. These experts can help the organizations to diagnose the pain areas and where improvements are needed, be it through a diagnostic survey or focus group meetings or one on one meetings with selective individuals and come out with a strategic approach on the short term, medium-term and long term basis. The idea is to take the client organizations through a scientific process to attain the desired results. We believe in addressing the challenges only through our diagnostic approach followed by a remedial approach. On people related matters no superficial approach can work. In other words, we do not work on the symptoms but work on the root causes.