Employee engagement is a management approach to ensure the workers commitment to the organizational values and goals by motivating them to contribute to the organization’s success. It also aims to enhance the employees’ sense of well-being. Employee engagement involves the creation of conditions in which employees offer more of their potential and capability to the organization, resulting to increased productivity.
Employee engagement is not something new. It is considered as a long-standing management approach that was given a new lease of life because of the current emphasis on employee-centered organizations. It is similar to the much older concepts of employee commitment, job involvement, job satisfaction, and organizational citizenship behavior.
Employee engagement is a two-way approach: management working to engage or get the commitment of the employees, and the employee deciding on the level of engagement to offer management. The commitment of each party reinforces the other. The engaged employee experiences a combination of job satisfaction, job involvement, organizational commitment, and feeling of empowerment. The concept of employee engagement is greater than the sum of its parts.
An engaged organization manifests strong and well-defined values, characterized by fairness and trust based on mutual respect between management and employees, where two-way commitments and promises are well understood and are intended to be fulfilled.
Employee engagement involves attitude, behavior, and outcome. There is improvement in attitude when the employees take pride and manifest loyalty to the organization. The change in behavior is manifested when employees take it upon themselves to be advocates of the organization to its clients or to go above and beyond the call of normal duty to help attain the organizational goals or objectives. An improved outcome can be observed in higher production rates, lower incidence of accidents, fewer conflicts among employees, lower employee turnover rates, and reduced sickness or absenteeism.
These three aspects are always part of any discussion involving employee engagement. They are the expected outcomes once the pre-conditions of employee engagement are met. They trigger and reinforce one another.
Improved performance, better communication, and increased productivity constitute the heart of employee engagement but they cannot be achieved by a simple mechanistic approach that will attempt to manipulate the employee’s emotions and commitment to the organization. Employees are not naïve to not see them quickly.
Management effort to do such manipulation will only result in employees’ disillusionment and cynicism. Employee engagement can be achieved only when employees freely and willfully exercise their discretion in giving their commitment to the organization. Such willful discretion can be extracted from the employees only when there is internal motivation to do the same.
Motivation is often viewed in terms of the behavioral goal or direction and its intensity or level of motivation. When employees are convinced on the merits of the organization’s goals, they purposely devote themselves towards the attainment of those goals or objectives. They evolve from a task-driven existence to that of a purpose-driven existence. They do not simply perform their job because they need to; they now perform their job because they want to.
As a self-professed “manager from hell,” Steve Caldwell learned through the hard knocks of making mistakes while building a career. Today he serves as a leadership coach, mentor and role model guiding high achieving managers to become the strong leaders their companies, employees and the world needs. He is also author of the book Manager Mojo – Be the Leader that Others Want to Follow (available on Amazon).
“In all arenas, we suffer from a lack of leadership talent,” Steve observes. “Every day employees are promoted into management with no training or support to guide their development into leadership positions. You don’t have to be born to lead. You can learn to lead.” He can be reached by email at Steve@ManagerMojo.com or by phone at (415) 670*9543.