Monday, July 20, 2009

People Management - Simply Engaging!

Simple measures can make a big difference to employee engagement and organisational performance. ..
Key learnings:
  1. Gender, hierarchy, culture and industry have a great impact on employee engagement
  2. Employee engagement is best ensured through job satisfaction resulting from contribution

Employee engagement is essential for corporate survival. The significance of a committed and engaged staff can not be undermined.

Employee engagement represents the extent of emotional affiliation that employees have with their jobs. It is difficult to quantify engagement levels in terms of numbers. Nevertheless, it is important to measure it. An important factor in measuring employee engagement is the cultural bearing of the organisation. The meaning of employee engagement varies with geography, and depends to a large extent on the cultural disposition of the organisation. The corporate definition for engagement varies widely from country to country. In India, employee engagement is an emotional subject, encompassing elements like loyalty and commitment. Further, in the context of Indian companies, employee engagement is tangible, and can be quantified by the years of association with the company.

Along with different definitions, countries also have different sets of motivating factors. What motivates an Indian may not motivate an American and vice versa. Hence, understanding the interplay of various factors that result in employee engagement or disengagement can help leaders craft a successful strategy.

Engaging dimensions

Employee engagement is best described as the degree of alignment between job satisfaction and job contribution. When employees feel that their contribution is adding value to the job, it results in job satisfaction, which in turn leads to greater employee engagement. Hence, using these two parameters to ascertain the level of engagement can help leaders get a better insight to steer their efforts.

According to Business World – Anexi BlessingWhite survey on employee engagement, employee satisfaction and contribution combine in five different ways. They are:

  1. Fully engaged
  2. Nearly engaged
  3. Honeymooners and hamsters
  4. Crash and burn
  5. Disengaged

Each of these categories represents the level of employee engagement in the given job. The fully engaged category includes workers who are extremely satisfied with their jobs and contribution to the organisation. The nearly engaged section includes workers who score high on the contribution front, but give a few points a miss on the satisfaction component. The honeymooners and hamsters include those who are new to the job and show great drive to stick around. The crash and burn category includes workers whose contributions always fall short, thereby resulting in a state of perpetual dissatisfaction. The disengaged category, as the word suggests, comprises the disinterested lot, who figure on the underperformers list. In the context of Indian companies, 34 percent of employees are fully engaged, 29 percent nearly engaged and 13 percent are disengaged.

This segmentation of employees on the basis of their engagement levels can help leaders chalk out a better people management strategy. Employee engagement is a dynamic function and is affected deeply by the changes in the external environment. Thus, apart from employee behaviour and individual aspirations, there are other factors that have to be considered for a thorough understanding of the way engagement expresses itself.

Key determinants

Employee engagement, as mentioned earlier, depends on a large number of factors. In addition to an employee’s personal aspirations and cultural moorings, critical factors like gender, hierarchical status and the industry also influence engagement levels. The BW-Anexi survey revealed that men are 10 percent more engaged than women, and 6 percent less disengaged. Further, engagement also increased as one moved up the hierarchy. Those at the lower hierarchical levels showed less engagement, while those at the top exhibited maximum engagement. The difference in the levels of engagement was also evident across industries. In case of research-driven industries like pharmaceuticals, employee engagement was found to be low, while the engagement levels were high in service-oriented industries. Thus, it is evident that employee engagement depends on a number of parameters.

As mentioned earlier, job satisfaction and employee contribution are the two key components of employee engagement. However, understanding each of these, and the factors that lie within, is important to get a clear perspective of the interplay and dynamics of employee engagement and its components. According to the survey, job satisfaction is influenced by the following factors:

  1. Career development opportunities and training efforts (30 percent)
  2. Challenging work (19 percent)
  3. Better opportunities to leverage one’s strengths (29 percent)

Employee contribution, on the other hand, was found to be greatly influenced by:

  1. Development and training (26 percent)
  2. Effective feedback at regular intervals (25 percent)
  3. Clarity of goals and a clear understanding of what the individual is required to do and why (22 percent)

The aforementioned factors represent the Indian sentiment, but are also consistent with the global opinion about factors influencing satisfaction and contribution.

Final thoughts...

While employee engagement is a dynamic function and is dependent on a number of factors, it surely can be managed by incorporating certain basic measures. However, before doing so, leaders and managers must be sensitised to the various factors influencing engagement and steer their efforts to ensure perfect alignment.

Ref: TheManageMentor.

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