Employee engagement

Employee Engagement Management : Who is Responsible?

85% of global employees report being disengaged at work resulting in $7.8 trillion in lost productivity

 

Engaged employees are the lifeblood of any organization. They feel connected to the work they do, and show concern for team success and organizational outcomes. They are dedicated, share the organization’s mission and goals and motivate their peers to do the same. As such, organizations are investing in employee engagement management strategies to meet their objectives.

 

What is Employee Engagement Management?

 

As defined by well-known engagement revolutionist William Kahn, employee engagement is the state wherein people employ and express themselves physically, cognitively and emotionally during work role performances. This definition reveals 3 dimensions of engagement: physical engagment (mental and physical effort in daily tasks), cognitive engagement (an understanding of the organization’s vision and the meaning attached to work) and emotional engagement (the employee-employer emotional relationship). Employee engagement management refers to the things done to cultivate and maintain a positive expression of these dimensions . It would be strategies and processes in place to keep employees enthusiastic about organizational success.

Modern literature has, in different ways, identified varying levels of employee engagement. Some of the well known ones including:

 

Gallup’s 3 Types of employees

Engaged employees

Go the extra mile to drive high performance and move the company forward.
Not engaged employees Do the bare minimum and put in time but not passion or energy into work.
Actively disengaged employees

Are unsatisfied with work, resentful and willing to act on their unhappiness. 

The Quantum Workplace’s Employee Engagement Profiles

Highly Engaged Employees

Put in extra effort towards organizational success, and speak highly of their organizations to friends and family.
Moderately Engaged Employees Like their companies but see opportunities for improvement. They may underperform.
Barely Engaged Employees Indifferent towards work and are actively looking for other opportunities. They are a high turnover risk.
Disengaged Employees

Their negative perception of the organization affects the productivity of those around them.

 

In a struggle to move employees from lower to higher levels of the engagement classification, organizations have failed to identify exactly who should be involved with employee engagement management. The common misconception that HR alone is responsible has left many organizations lacking. We see in this article that executives, managers and even employees ought to be involved and held accountable.

 

Why is Employee Engagement Management Important?

 

advanatges of employee engagement management

 

Do not take my word for it, let the data speak for itself…

  • Only 15% of employees worldwide are engaged  – Gallup
  • Engaged employees are 17% more productive than their peers – Gallup
  • 72% of executives agree that engaged employees result in happier customers – Harvard Business Review
  • Highly engaged workplaces have 41% lower absenteeism and 70% fewer safety incidents 
  • Highly engaged workplaces increase profitability by 21% – Gallup
  • 71% of executives say employee engagement management is key to their company’s success – Harvard Business Review

There is a business case for employee engagement management. It has the potential to significantly affect employees’ productivity, customer satisfaction, employee turnover rates and loyalty, organizational reputation and overall profitability. It is even reported that engaged workplaces are safer (think physical and mental health).

 

What are the drivers of employee engagement?

 

There is no identifying the actors responsible for employee engagement management without an understanding of what factors define employee engagement. 

 

In his doctoral dissertation, Dag Flachet, our colleague and partner at Codific,  identifies 3 dimensions of utility that affect job satisfaction. I believe these to be relevant to  employee engagement.

Transformational Utility

The need for employees to find identity in work individually (as a person) and/or communally (as a group). Organizational vision,  job position and the nature of the work done in accordance to employees’ values and beliefs come into play.

Social Utility

Positive social relationships both horizontally (with coworkers and colleagues) and vertically (with managers and supervisors). Vertical relationships are the closest representation of employees’ relationships with the organization. They tend to be the most impactfult determinants of engagement.

Material Utility

Think pay packages, bonuses, wages, and working conditions. These might not directly improve employee engagement, but their absence can demotivate employees leading to low engagement.

 

Similarly Kahn identified 3 psychological conditions contributing to employee engagement

Meaningfulness

The sense that there is a return on investment from engagement in role performances. Some factors to consider  would be the difficulty of the tasks at hand, formal positions and the status attached to them, and the nature of interactions with leadership and other employees.

Safety  

A feeling that the work environment is secured, trustworthy, and consisting of clear behavioral consequences to actions. Consider trust, support, and open relationships with managers and colleagues, work environments allowing employees to express their unique identities, and management styles that encourage trust, consistency, and competence.  

Availability

Having the physical, emotional and psychological resources to direct towards work roles. It requires confidence in one’s own ability to fit within the social system at work, allowing him/her to be invested. Also, situations in the employee’s external life might limite his/her ability to be engaged.

 

Who then is responsible for employee engagement management?

 

employee engagement management question

 

Linda had always been a high performer. When her manager sent the team a harsh performance related email  despite meeting quarterly targets, she decided (after a meeting with her teamates) to email said manager with suggestions on how they could work productively and respectfully together.  Unfortunately, another employee approached the manager with gossip about “negative comments Linda had shared during the meeting”. The manager’s attitude towards Linda became antagonistic. Linda had poor feedback even when she was doing a great job. She was sad and depressed and wondered why the leadership in her organization would keep such a manager even though she had a bad record of employee relationships. She feared any complaints to HR will worsen her situation and soon decided to quit.

Who in this case is to blame?

 

What is the role of leadership (executives) in employee engagement management?

Employees demonstrate higher levels of engagement when they understand the company’s vision and their role within the organization’s framework. By being carriers and preachers of the overall vision, leadership plays an integral role in employee engagement management. It is important that leaders articulate this vision in a way to keep all employees  aligned, and consistently communicate any progress and changes in direction.

Interestingly, executives seem to be predisposed to value engagement. A Harvard Business review study found that senior leaders as opposed to junior and middle management leaders showed more concern for employee engagement. While mid level managers focused on cutting costs, leadership valued people, processes and the different assets that make up the organization. However, despite this interest in employee engagement, leaders can be far in touch from the reality at the bottom of the organization. Leaders should take responsibility for how managers treat their subordinates. This could be via management recruitment strategies that prioritize people management skills and performance reviews and rewards that include employee engagement.

 

What is the role of managers in employee engagement management?

 

Managers Account for about 70% of employee engagement discrepancies in organizations

The majority of employee engagement drivers stem from the quality of manager-employee relationships. Employees assess their relationship and engagement with orgiztios through their relationships with their environment. As managers determine day to day interactions, processes and operations that define the work environment, it is important for them to build personalized relationships with employees, empowering them with the resources and motivation to stay engaged at work. There are 3 key areas managers can focus on to achieve this.

Growth and Development

Managers should work together with employees to understand their professional goals, build an action road map and assign tasks and projects to help employees develop the skills and experience needed to meet those goals. It is equally important to communicate company wide development opportunities with the team.

Recognition and Appreciation

Recognition from direct supervisors are the most meaningful as they possess first hand contact with subordinate’s work, their progress and challenges. Instead of periodic bigger recognition events, it is advantageous  to use small one on one consistent praise over time.

Communication and Feedback

Frequent conversations about work expectations, progress and challenges are the foundation of a meaningful feedback strategy. Managers should consider one on one feedback sessions with each employee to develop trust, solid relationships and address any concerns early on. Feedback should equally be two-ways rather than only top-bottom. 

 

What is the role of employees in employee engagement management?

 

Of only 10% of the population with high level talent for managing others, only 18% are current managers. Truth be told, despite the willingness for organizations to boost employee engagement, many managers lack the capacity to.  By default, engaged employees are rare and those who can take responsibility for their engagement easily standout.

Employees can be intentional about staying engaged at work by

  • Lookig into the different drivers of engagement and evaluating for areas of improvement.
  • Setting engagement goals focusing on 1 to 3 drivers at a time and identifying what behaviors should be changed or adapted to meet set goals.
  • Visualizing positive results and remaining accountable for success.
  • Some practical tips and habits to adopt might include taking opportunities to learn in and out of the organization, taking breaks to avoid burnout, looking for external ways to recognise one’s value out of formal recognition programs (e.g mentoring junior colleagues), building positive relationships with coworkers.

 

What is the role of HR in employee engagement management?

 

Beyond ensuring the right cultural fit for employees during hiring and onboarding, HR plays a major role assisting managers in keeping employees engaged.

  • Providing managers with the tools, resources and training to motivate employees and keep them inspired.
  • Identifying training and development opportunities to align employees with their professional goals.
  • Overseeing employee engagement measurement efforts: collecting employee feedback through formal procedures, analyzing feedback results, identifying gaps between the organization’s efforts and employee’s experience, and breaking down engagement metrics into actionable tasks for managers to follow. This process requires HR to identify which managers are effective and what processes have the biggest positive impact. 360 degree feedback offers a holistic view of employee engagement for this.

When do 360 surveys come into play?

 

employee engagement survey

 

We have established an important truth. HR surveys and fun employee get-togethers would not create engagement. Unified organizations where all important stakeholders take action towards employee engagement management will.

Nevertheless, mechanisms in place to collect employee feedback are essential to identify engagement gaps and act on them. While feedback channels on platforms like slack and feedback meetings can start the conversation, a 360 degree survey throws light on different perspectives from different stakeholders (employee, manager, peer and sometimes internal and external customers) in a way that is fair, objective and all-encompassing. Additionally, with an effective analysis of  results,  companies can benchmark results against industry specific or year on year data, make engagement results actionable and visualize the link between employee engagement and overall organizational goals.

The Importance of Privacy in Employee Engagement Surveys

privacy in 360 degree surveys

Nothing defiles the purpose of an employee engagement survey like lach of safety and privacy. To encourage employees to share without fear of repercussions, companies are advised to hire the services of a 3rd party HR consultant (with no conflicts of interest and limited bias) and adopt tools following privacy by design principles. The data collected should be  anonymized and aggregated. 

It is important that surveys make employees feel safe to share, heard and valued. 

CODIFIC’S Survey Analysis and Reporting Automation tool (SARA) helps HR:

  • Collect survey data safely and anonymously, encouraging employees to share
  • Automate analysis with either generic methodologies or proprietary methodologies of their choice. There is room for open-ended questions allowing employees to fully express themselves.
  • Generate automated reports with their existing templates and branding to be shared seamlessly throughout the organization

 

Employee engagement management is a combined effort by different stakeholders to elevate employees’ experience. Together with safety and privacy at heart, organisations are good to go to improve engagement.

 

What else does Codific build with privacy by design principles?

 

Videolab is used by top universities, academies and hospitals to put the care in healthcare. Communication skills, empathy and other soft skills are trained by sharing patient interviews recordings for feedback.

SAMMY Is a Software Assurance Maturity Model management tool. It enables companies to formulate and implement a security assurance program tuned to the risks they are facing. That way other companies can help us build a simple and safe digital future. Obviously our AppSec program and SAMMY itself is built on top of it.

We believe in collaboration and open innovation, we would love to hear about your projects and see how we can contribute in developing secure software and privacy by design architecture. Contact us.