The Resource Based View (RBV) asserts that the employees are one significant resources in an organization. In order to gain a competitive advantage, organisations have to ensure that the workforce as key resource is productive. Engagement is therefore a vital aspect for any business organization to realize success in its operations. Employee engagement can be described in terms of finding meaningful and gratifying work from the employee (Truss 2013). Engaged employees are those that are committed to their work and always want to do their best to ensure that the objectives of the organisation are met (Federman, 2009). It is the aspiration of most workers to perform a good job. However, organizations have to ascertain that employees are engaged. Several factors can contribute to employee engagement within the organization. This paper explores factors that contribute to employee engagement. The scope of the paper will also examine how organizations can approach the issues of change when implementing initiatives to promote employee engagement.
Factors Contributing to Employees’ Engagement
Research shows that the most influential factor that affects employee engagement is the issue of the management working relationship. Effective management is vital to the success of the organization. It also improves employee engagement (Fernandez 2007). According to James Clifton who is the Chief Executive Officer of Gallup company, workers with close association with the management are more engaged.
Workers engagement is inevitably linked with the manager’s practices.
Good and competent managers can inform the workers of what is needed from them, offering feedback on workers performance, giving employees equal opportunities while giving them promotions and delegating reasonable levels of responsibility to the workers. Moreover, good managers are good listeners, honest, approachable, and establish a good relation with all stakeholders within the organization thus creating a sustainable environment for the workers (Firth et al. 2004). Thus, it is imperative for the organization to offer quality leadership and management. A study conducted by Sridevi (2010) found out that close to two-thirds of examined workers need more opportunities to improve and remain satisfied in their work environment. In addition, they considered their relationship with the management as a contributory factor to their engagement. The strong employer-employee relationship is therefore a vital ingredient in the worker engagement process.
Subhash and Kopare (2015) argue that employees want to feel valued within the workplace, they want a manager who can realize their work and congratulate them for the job well done. Additionally, proper and adequate communication from the manager can improve their engagement as noted by Moorcroft in Subhash and Kopare (2015). Good communication helps in informing the employees of the goals and objectives of the organization. Proper communication yields solid results with increased employee engagement (Subhash and Kopare 2015). According to a study by Sridevi (2010), communication is a major driver to obtain employee engagement. The study indicates that
understanding the opinions and views of workers is the most vital attribute to their engagement. The study also singles out the importance of being well informed about what is taking place in the firm.
According to Development Dimension International, employers should do five things to ensure strong employee engagement. The first thing is to ensure proper alignment of efforts with strategy. Managers should ensure the efforts of the employees are supporting the purpose and the mission of the work. The workers should be aware how their activities are aligned
with the missions of the firm. Through this, employees will feel motivated and improve their engagement within the organization. Organization without a clear alignment leads to poor employee engagement. Secondly, the manager needs to empower workers. Empowering workers is a critical issue in realizing strong employee engagement. The managers should empower their workers and allow them to explore their interest in their working environment. According to Development Dimensions International (2005), organizations are capable of empowering their employees by identifying workers who find pleasure in their work and by allowing workers to make vital decisions within the organization. Workers are always empowered when the job they do has specific purpose and goals.
Again, the managers should ensure collaboration and encourage teamwork among employees. Teamwork is vital in achieving success within the organization. It makes work easier for employees since they cooperate in meeting the objectives of the organization. For engagement to be achieved, collaboration and teamwork are vital among employees. Organizations with strong teams working together realize engagement of their employees. Several organizations
are often faced with the problem of competing work groups making it difficult to meet a common goal. When working groups are not united within the organization, then they can have an “us .vs. them “attitude. This attitude is harmful to the organization and hinders employees’ engagement (DDI). Finally, managers need to provide support and recognition to employees assist them to concentrate on their activities. Managers should not only provide formal training programs to employees but also offer opportunities to practice the newly obtained knowledge and skills under supervision (DDI, 2005).
Leadership is another critical element that can be used to advance employee engagement in the organization. For any organization to be successful, it is vital for the organization to have good leaders with good leadership qualities. Such organizations are capable of thriving in more challenging conditions. Leaders should demonstrate clear legitimacy in their actions towards their workers. The leader should have adequate values and clarity of purpose that is necessary for engagement. The organization should realize the importance of leadership in promoting employee engagement and have good leaders within the working environment (Kahn 2010).
The diagram below summarizes the importance of leadership in creating employee engagement.
Sridevi (2010) states that employees want to work in an environment where they find meaning at work. Kahn (2010) also records that meaning at the work environment is a probable way of bringing workers and managers together to benefit of both managers and employee. Such opportunities create a sense of community, opportunity to make contributions towards the advancement of the organization and finding space to be who they are (Penna 2007). Consequently, researchers have also identified a new theory known as “Hierarchy of engagement.” The model resembles Maslow’s hierarchy of needs model (Figure 1.0). The model indicates the effect of every level on the attraction, retention and engagement of employees ((Penna 2007).
Figure 1.0 The Hierarchy of Engagement Model
(Source: Penna, 2007).
The bottom line of the model represents pay and benefits. After meeting these needs, the employee focuses on development opportunities to the employees.
A study conducted by Development Dimensions International (2005), singled out that most workers resign from their responsibilities for better development opportunities. Most employees desire to keep their jobs fresh; they desire to learn new skills to improve their efficiency. An organization can help develop the interest of their employees by creating a learning cultures and development plans for all their workers. Consequently, employers should ensure they offer equal opportunities to all employees, failure to which, the employees may feel demoralized and resign from their job. The possibility of promotion is also introduced in the model. The employor
needs to offer equal promotional opportunities to worker regardless of their race and ethnicity. The leadership style is also incorporated in the framework. Poor leadership styles can hinder employee engagement. The model indicates “meaning at work” at the apex. Penna indicates that, at this point, job brings fulfillment for the workers. The workers feel appreciated, valued and make a contribution to the advancement of the organization (Penna, 2007).
Perrin (2003) discovered ten workplace features which lead to employee engagement. The first three attributes among ten listed include the interest of senior management in the well-being of workers, more demanding work and the Decision-making Authority. A research conducted in Great Britain found out that, the main drivers in improving workers involvement is the sense of feeling involved and valued. As a result, the employees are involved in decision making to the extent that they feel that their voices can be heard. Alternatively, the employees also have opportunities to improve their jobs in realizing organization is concerned about their health and well-being (Fernandez 2007).
To clearly indicate various ways in which the employer activities may impact employee engagement, Sridevi offers a job performance model. According to the model, workers engagement is the result of employers attributes including his knowledge, abilities skills and temperament. They employees are also engaged by organizational setting including the physical setting of the organization, leadership style, human resource management and social setting (Sridevi 2010). Consequently, several drivers leading workers engagement are non-financial in nature. As a result, any firm with dedicated leadership can obtain required engagement with low cost. Managers should not ignore financial remuneration to their employees. Good performance should be rewarded
effectively. Nonetheless, this is a replicate of the Human Relations Movement which states that human resource is often not encouraged by money alone. As stated by Penna, pay and benefits are essential to all workers either good or bad. Organizations should provide proper pay to its workers (Penna 2007).
Development Dimensional International postulates that companies require strong strategies and systems that can sustain and foster engagement within the organization. Such systems include promotion, performance, hiring services, and compensating employees, training them and recognizing their efforts. These systems offer a strong base for achieving employee engagement. Imperfect or shaky systems limit the organization’s efforts to build engagement and make it impossible to obtain (DDI 2005).
Communication is also vital in creating sound relationships between employers and employees. Open communication enables employees to express their ideas more freely. Additionally, communication hinders workers from feeling isolated and improves teamwork within the organization. When there exist strong relationship within the organization, employees trust one another and involve the management in issues that affect them. Moreover, effective communication leads to clarity within the organization. It hinders state of ambiguity and confusion. Communication makes responsibilities and roles clear to the workers (Zeljko and Ivana 2015). Such key attributes of communication can lead to employee engagement, therefore, management should inculcate a culture of open communication. Accordingly, the organization needs to realize the importance of communication in creating employee engagement. They should emphasize open communication within the organization. A study conducted by Moorcroft reported that proper employee communications shows massive results. It leads to increased employee engagement (Subhash and Kopare 2015).
How Organizations Can Approach the Issue of Change When Implementing Initiatives to Promote Employee Engagement
Hawitt (2013) discloses that in the previous year’s essential after the recent financial crisis, employees have experienced a great deal of changes within the workplace which can result to a reduction in their level of engagement. The manner in which an organization deals with change can affect employee engagement either positively or negatively. Many organizations always change their plans and strategies to compete effectively in the market. In the case of significant changes, for instance, a merger or restructuring of the organization, the organization needs to consider the effect of the change to the worker engagement. Before effecting change within the organization, the managers should consider how long it will take the workers to move through the change process. They should have perceptions on how employees are likely to be affected by the change.
During the change process, good leaders should perform four things including informing the employees of the change. The managers should inform about the vision of the organization and share the vision with the workers. Secondly, the managers should engage employees in the change process and find their views. Communication is therefore a significant element (Hackett, 2015). Thirdly, managers should address any barrier to change and offer training skills to employees to enablethem to improve their knowledge and skills about the new change. As highlighted by Clark, (2012) in order for the employees to be highly engaged, they have to learn at or above the speed of the change, so as to keep up with the current professional skills. Finally, the managers need to build trust among their employees through their activities. The diagram below shows classic change curve for the organization
Employee engagement is important for the success of the organization. Any organization desiring to be successful in its operations should ensure maximum engagement within its premises. There exist several factors that contribute to employee engagement. The organization should be aware of these factors and strive to improve employee engagement. The organization should ensure good leadership, ensure open communication and follow adequate channels when implementing change. Though this, the organization can compete effectively in the global market.
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