In today’s highly competitive business environment, organizations must maximize profits from their current capabilities while also acknowledging and adapting to the fact that today’s organizations and business environments are dynamic. Organizations must work hard to create a conducive work environment that enhances employee engagement and well-being in order to increase or maintain competitive advantage, profitability, efficiency, and effectiveness. In today’s organization, employee engagement and well-being have become a critical concept that requires the utmost attention from management. For growth and survival in today’s globalised economy, business leaders require a high-performing workforce.
Despite the recognition and programmes implemented by organisations worldwide, the majority of employees remain disengaged at work. According to Gallup data, the overall proportion of engaged workers in 2021 will be just 39%, up from 36% in 2020.
What is employee engagement?
Gallup defines employee engagement as the involvement and enthusiasm of employees in their work and workplace. Sandhya (2016) expanding on this definition described engagement as a positive, fulfilling, work-related state of mind characterised by vigour, dedication, and absorption; but it is distinct and is expected to predict a full range of outcomes.
Performance predictors such as satisfaction, commitment and loyalty have been found inadequate compared to actual employee involvement and enthusiasm in their workplace. Although satisfaction among employees is desirable, satisfied employees may not necessarily display vigour in their work. On the other hand, employees who show commitment or are committed to their organisations may not always have an in-depth commitment to their job. Satisfaction and loyalty are related to performance, but engagement appears overall to be a better predictor of employee performance.
According to Ellis and Sorenson (2015), employee engagement is described within the context of a relationship between an employee and his employer; it relates to the ability of and opportunity given to an employee to willingly participate in the decision-making process and activities while also taking affirmative steps to further the organisation’s prestige and interests.
Who is responsible for employee engagement?
The current level of global employee engagement is a far cry from what should be attainable for increased organisational and business growth. Most programmes built for employee engagement don’t yield expected results because they are usually drawn from the wrong angle or for a wrong target. Employee engagement strategies that work are designed holistically to cater for all or major factors that contribute to employee engagement. And these factors are usually unique to the specific environment and businesses. Hence the need for Needs Assessment (NA). Low engagement can be caused by several factors including lack of recognition by managers, poor company communication and not being aligned with the mission of the company. More than ever, employee engagement is a strategic business objective because engaged employees lead to long-term employee retention, higher levels of productivity, and improved quality of work.
Effective management of employee engagement, employee well-being effectively, and the organisation’s objective is crucial to ensuring a sustainable and viable future for their organisation. Organisations and Businesses are gradually recognising that a highly engaged workforce can increase innovation, productivity, and bottom-line performance and thus enable employees to be committed to the organisation. More so, empowered employees are said to be in the position to make quick decisions and respond to any changes in the environment. Thus, the process of transferring power, authority with responsibility and accountability to the employees enables organisations to be more flexible and responsive to lead improvements in both individual and organisational performance.
To the question, who is responsible for employee engagement?
Employee engagement is much more interactive and a two-way exchange process of efforts between an employer and the employee.
Certain literatures suggest that making employees feel valued by management, management’s interest in employee’s well-being or giving more opportunity for employee’s growth enhances employee engagement. These studies point the finger to management as the chief stakeholder in employee engagement. According to Taris and Schaufeli (2015), the well-being of employees at work is dependent upon diverse factors some of which includes; job satisfaction, employee participation, engagement, work-life balance, work environment/conditions, employer-employee relationship status and a few more. It was alluded that these factors can either contribute to an increase or decrease in the productivity of employees and as such, organizations need to be sensitive to employees’ needs even when they keep it private.
We believe in the perfect union and application of the concepts organisational citizenship behaviour (OCB) and employee Commitment. Therefore, to truly inculcate the culture of employee engagement, organisations must first create the atmosphere and culture that promotes OCB which in-turn will enhance employee commitment.
Why is employee engagement so important?
For engaged employees who are happy and completely committed to their work, it’s more than just a wait for the end of the month (salaries); it is the dedication towards their employers and role that makes them passionate about their work, which is often reflected in their outcomes.
What we’ve discovered in our years of in dept research in the topic of employee engagement is that every organisation that is prepared for employee engagement has its unique kinds of employees. Not all qualified candidates have the emotional and social connection to the values of your organisation. A research that birthed JobPrimers® Recruitment Solution (JRS).
Often, companies miss the core issues related to employee engagement because business owners/managers assume engagement is directly linked to salary and compensation. Most leaders figure employees leave the company due to the lack of promotional opportunities or the lure of better job packages elsewhere.
Adequately compensating employees is truly crucial in ensuring employees are comfortable. However, they are certain employees that are always in search of bigger paychecks and job packages. However, employees who take ownership of their job roles and see themselves as stakeholders of the organisation are those who are ready to be engaged.
Apart from making sure employees are adequately compensated, recent studies have suggested important factors directly impact employee engagement. These include:
- Employee trust in the company’s leadership,
- Employee relationships with the management teams/supervisors, and
- Employee pride in being a part of the company.
Synergising these factors will yield engaged employees. When employees are engaged, they are more likely to invest in the work they do which leads to a higher quality of work produced.
According to Glassdoor data, a one-point rise in company rating is related with a 1.3-point increase in customer satisfaction. Those that are engaged are more involved and work more, but employees who are disengaged are likely to perform the bare minimum to get by. According to the Harvard Business Review, firms with greater levels of employee involvement had 48 percent fewer safety incidents and 41 percent fewer patient safety events.
The importance of investing in employee engagement
By investing in employee engagement, your business or organisation will be able to increase productivity, work quality, and retain top talent. After a record high engagement level of 38% in 2000, Gallup reported a 1% growth in 2021 yielding 39%.
1. Employee retention
Organizations with high engagement reduce both turnover and hiring costs and disengaged employees are a major factor contributing to high employee turnover.
Engaging employees is critical for retaining valuable talent and is an important piece of the employee satisfaction puzzle; as disengaged employees are more likely to leave their jobs. According to Forbes, employees who are engaged in their work are more likely to be motivated and remain committed to their employer. This leads to achieving more business goals and helping to drive the organization forward.
2. Employee productivity
Employees who are engaged at work are more likely to be productive on a constant basis, resulting in increased income. According to TechJury, companies with a high degree of employee engagement are 21 percent more lucrative. According to the Workplace Research Foundation, people who are engaged are 38% more likely to be productive.
3. How to improve employee engagement
Many researchers have diagnosed the field of employee engagement to determine the factors that will increase employee engagement in the organisation. The employees are willing and enthusiastic to work where they find meaning. The workplace is the prime spot where employer and employee can come closer together for the benefit of both, the employee feels a sense of community, comfortable space for themselves and find opportunities to contribute to the growth of the organization.
Armstrong et al. (2016) proposed a new model of engagement like the Maslow’s need hierarchy has also been developed by the researchers where the lowest level is the basic need like pay and benefits; higher needs follow once the employee is satisfied to spot opportunities, the possibility of promotion and leadership and the final level of this hierarchy is aligning personal values with the values of the firm and discovering a common objective and a sense of connection. There must be more opportunities to grow and a robust employee-employer relationship for initiating employee engagement. According to Sofian (2016) there must be five essential factors to create a highly engaged workforce;
- Align efforts with strategy
- Promote and encourage teamwork
- Provide opportunities to grow and develop
- Recognize the efforts
This is why the Workplace Innovation and Skills Enhancement for Productivity (WISE-P) model was developed. The WISE-P model is a New Model of Engagement Strategy developed from extensive research of employer – employee needs and implementing recommendation from these studies with alignment with Gallup’s workplace transition model;
Enhancing that interactive process ensures employees come to terms with evolving technologies and processes; and to build the requisite soft skills to ensure enhanced collaboration, efficient innovation that will bring about increased employee output through increased work motivation and engagement.
To achieve this, Terraskills while taking into consideration the need for employees to advance their career and increase organizational growth, developed the WISE-P model following International Training Standards to ensure hands-on learning with the aim of supporting education with technological and soft skills, driving social and professional inclusion of underemployed and disengaged individuals.
The WISE-P model was developed based on 7 dimensions of employability and skills enhancement;
- Academic learning and orientation: the model provides an in-depth knowledge and orientation to developing interest and combines academic strengths and knowledge in the context of career aspirations.
- Experiential learning: WISE-P engages participants in purposeful and meaningful experiences, utilizing real life examples and social experiments to enhance personal and career interest through guided reflection.
- Career maturity: WISE-P engages participants to believe in a clear picture of self as it relates to the world of work, having knowledge and direct experience with career exploration and engagement activities.
- Professional skills: the model helps employees demonstrate skills that employers’ value for successful transition to the workplace such as planning and prioritizing work, communication, problem solving, teamwork and collaboration, and leadership.
- Career management: the model also ensures employees develop and employ the skills necessary to successfully navigate the workplace and make informed, sound judgments in relation to lifetime career progression.
- Meaningful connections/Network development: the WISE-P module ensures that employees capitalize on mutually beneficial relationships that expand perspective, build interpersonal communication skills and create access to opportunities.
- Global perspective: the model helps employees navigate the global economy by developing a broader understanding of the different cultures, economies and systems of the world and applying that perspective to the context of work.
The Model’s 7 dimensions are geared towards achieving a total organisational productivity driven by engaged employees.