“In a world where most factors of production are increasingly standardized, where a production line or the goods on a supermarket shelf are much the same the world over, employee engagement is the difference that makes the difference” (Macleod & Clarke, 2008).
Employee Engagement is defined as harnessing of one’s complete self (physically, cognitively and emotionally) to the work role. And has been very well document in both academic and practice writings, your ability to invest yourself completely in your work role results in higher productivity, customer engagement, profit, quality, retention, discretionary effort and safety. Additionally, research also highlights that a high quality work environment that furthers employee engagement has a better impact on employee wellbeing as compared to measures like hours worked or time off. Furthermore, Employee Engagement is viewed as forward facing indicator that has predictive linkages to the above mentioned critical business outcomes.
Considering the well documented benefits that an engaged workforce delivers, creating a work environment that allows employees to flourish and results in business success ranks high on agenda of business leaders. A work environment that furthers employee engagement is an outcome of a cultural change program that involves- establishing a tight link between organizational strategy and culture, deep research that draws on individual’s experience and expectations, strategic analysis that offers actionable insights, suggestions and support to change how leaders view their work, their employees, and their customers and encouraging individual’s to take accountability for their engagement and success at the workplace.
First step in this journey for most organizations starts with measuring the current level of employee engagement and then using the information to devise action plans for improvement. However, the decision to measure employee engagement should not be taken lightly and must be carefully evaluated. Measuring employee engagement without a clearly articulated agenda and plan for managing and enabling a cultural change has the potential to do more harm than good. This process of cultural change involves educating your workforce, reorienting your people manager’s, encouraging role modeling by your leaders and enriching organizational systems, processes and policies to further employee engagement at every touch point.
Even before we take this first step of asking employees for their views, there may be some introspection that we may need to do assess our readiness as an organization and as leaders. Some of these questions may revolve around:
- Why are we undertaking this employee engagement measurement exercise- what is it that we expect to accomplish?
- Are we willing to allocate resources and nominate our best and the brightest to champion this process of cultural change?
- Are we as senior leaders willing to accept the employee feedback and take corrective actions/decisions which may or may not be comfortable for my division/function/business in the short term?
- Are we willing to shoulder the responsibility of encouraging employee’s to participate, share their feedback candidly and then champion of the process of disseminating the findings and enabling actions across levels?
- Are we willing to empower people across levels and enrich systems, processes and policies to further employee engagement?
If you are uncertain of your response on any of the above questions, perhaps, it may be useful to assess the organization’s commitment to this process of cultural change. A deep introspective discussion with senior organizational leaders and employees provides a starting point for assessing our readiness and commitment to this process of transformation. However, if you answered favorably to all these questions then you must congratulate yourself, for now you are on path of building a workplace where your employees will feel fulfilled, superior business outcomes will be well within reach with an enthused and excited workforce and your organizational culture will amplify your strategy and become your greatest competitive advantage.
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