02 JULY 2012
Employee Engagement – a strategic imperative
by Danie Jacobs: Director: Centre for Business Dynamics & ILSC at University of the Free State.
The majority of workers are NOT engaged. Research indicates that more than 70% of employees in the typical company are “not engaged” or “actively disengaged”. The reasons?
- There seems to be a startling disconnect between how companies try to promote engagement and what truly inspires and motivates employees
- Old-style satisfaction surveys are also used versus more comprehensive instruments that incorporate the true drivers of engagement
- It is also common practise to delegate the effort to HR versus making employee engagement a top priority for frontline managers.
"Engaged employees" are those that are fully involved in, committed to, and enthusiastic about their work, and thus will act in a way that furthers the organisation's interests, specifically emotional and intellectual drive to accomplish the work, mission, and vision of the organisation.
Although engagement integrates the classic constructs of job satisfaction, motivation, commitment, culture and climate, it necessitates different measurement. An engaged worker is satisfied, motivated, committed and is an advocate for the company he or she works for.
Employees are normally divided into three groups: they are either “Actively Disengaged”, “Not Engaged / Ambivalent” or “Actively Engaged”
Actively Disengaged employees are bored and frustrated; they speak poorly about the company and its leaders; they have negative energy, blame everyone, focus on problems and are unproductive. Not Engaged / Ambivalent employees feel underutilised; they do just enough to get by and stay out of trouble; they only take care of personal needs and their salary is a big reason why they stay with the company; they are unwilling to go ‘the extra mile’. Actively Engaged employees are committed to the mission, vision and values of the organisation.
Benefits of employee engagement
- Employee Engagement is a definite prerequisite for increased organisational performance
- Engaged Employees are much more productive & work harder / smarter and individual & team performance increase significantly
- Organisations that score high on engagement have increased levels of innovation
- There is a direct correlation between an organisation that scores high on engagement and improved customer service & satisfaction
- Engaged employees are more willing to learn & change
- Performing organisations with regard to engagement, have an increased ability to retain quality employees and see much reduced absenteeism
- Engaged employees are involved in and enthusiastic about their work, will act in a way that furthers their organisation’s interests and feel a strong emotional bond towards the organisation
- Engaged employees care about the future of the organisation, accept co-ownership and are self-motivated
- Engaged employees are supportive of their co-workers
- Engaged organisations record much improved financial performance (there is a definite correlation with financial metrics – sustainable growth and increased profits).
Of utmost importance for any organisation is to MEASURE how they perform in terms of the Drivers of Engagement. The RED FLAGS & Root Causes must be highlighted and organisations need to pull the correct “levers” to increase engagement and drive stronger performance.