Workforce engagement has become a key issue for organisations, and of interest to both researchers and practitioners. What factors contribute to workforce engagement and how can an organisation’s approach to issues leadership? In your essay, choose these
WORKFORCE ENGAGEMENT 1
FACTORS CONTRIBUTING TO WORKFORCE ENGAGEMENT AND ORGANIZATIONAL APPROACHES TO LEADERSHIP ISSUES
Workforce engagement is an approach at a workplace that results in creating the right working conditions or all members of the organization enabling them to perform their duties at the most optimum level available. Workforce engagement, also known as employee engagement results in employees being committed to the achievement of the goals and success of the organization while having an enhanced sense of their wellbeing. Engagement here is related to “overall job satisfaction” is a much clearer definition according to Harter et al. (2002), and is different from “job satisfaction” or “perceptive job satisfaction”. Workforce engagement can also be defined as employees being emotionally committed towards their work which in turn has a positive effect on the workplace regarding increased productivity, better customer service as well as fewer or reduced cases of employee absenteeism according to Little et al. (2006). Employees who are engaged would have every reason to want to work and not feign sickness so as to take sick off or be away from work on the excuse of being sick. It is worthy to note that a highly motivated workforce offers space for innovation in that innovators have the freedom to create new ideas as well as communicate them to higher management. Employee engagement in its own is also a form of investment by an organization that is focused on bringing out the full potential of its employees. An organization that invests in its employees shows that it does not want to lose its human resource and is focused on their well-being so as to achieve maximum profits for the company. This can also be said to be an approach to retain a highly skilled and motivated workforce.
Several factors contribute to the employee engagement based on different organizational structures, plans, and goals. Despite these organizational differences, the goal or end product of engagement is usually the same, and that is to have a highly motivated workforce. To have a clearer view of factors contributing to the employee engagement, it is worth to note there are three major factors that can be considered to contribute majorly to the employee engagement:
The work environment in which the employees are working
The type of work being done
The person(s) doing the job.
The context in which the employees carry out their day to day activities- referred to as work- is crucial when it comes to an engagement. The definition of the term «Environment» is not only limited to the physical space but the emotional and professional space that employees find themselves in. Using this definition, it can be said that the leadership of an organization or organizational unit to which employees directly report to is crucial to the workforce engagement. To determine if one has an environment that can be called an «engaging work environment,» their immediate supervisors should be considered. The result of having a highly engaged and motivated workforce is, therefore, based on the direct managers and supervisors of the said workforce.
According to Myung et.al (2016), for a workplace environment to be considered supportive, direct supervisors or managers should display several characteristics in their dealings with the workforce. The main characteristic should have the employee’s feeling valued and involved in their work. This can be done by engaging the employees in decision making, giving them the ability to voice their ideas and grievances, giving them opportunities for growth regarding promotions, as well as, showing them that the organization genuinely cares about their welfare, be it general or work-related. In a bid to improve an engagement at the workplace, it is advisable for an organization to hire, promote, or train managers plus supervisors who are genuinely involved and display care for the people as well as creatively inspire the workforce. These managers should be competent in letting employees know what is required of them, provide feedback based on their performance, as well as, establish and maintain good interactions with their subordinates and other coworkers.
The physical space of the workplace is also crucial to the engagement of a workforce. The employees should feel safe at the work site and should not be prone to accidents or incidents while at work. Safe and comfortable work sites have a positive effect on employees, as well as, safeguard the engagement and satisfaction. Resources and skills necessary for employees to comfortably carry out their duties should also not be overlooked as this is also vital to the engagement at the workplace. Since workplace engagement is a partial result of a job description, the type of work done by the different employees should be meaningful and exciting as argued by Theobaldet al. (2012).m In a bid to create an environment that is engaging at the workplace, the employees should feel that their respective jobs are meaningful and contribute to the overall goals of the organization despite some roles appearing more engaging than others. The compensation offered for the position should also be a motivating factor. To achieve this, it is up to the organization to ensure that the different job roles are exciting and challenging to the employees, allow for the use of various skills as well as have variety and compensation based on the performance of the employees.
Another factor that contributes to the workforce engagement is the hiring of people who possess the right qualifications and experience for the different roles available in an organization. Employees that are offered jobs that they do not want or are not qualified for can cause dissatisfaction among the workforce. An imbalance between what different roles offer and what the employee wants or is qualified for can be a source of discontent in an organization. A fulfilling role should provide employees with a challenge to achieve as well as give them the opportunity to develop and grow through the assignments carried out. It is therefore of high importance that an organization matches the right qualifications and personalities to the good job as a way to stem discontentment and increase engagement at the workplace.
Opportunities for growth in any given role are also a factor in the engagement of a workforce as defined by Hausknecht et al. (2009). Growth in this context is taken to mean both professional and skill wise. It is noted that employees tend to stay engaged and committed to an organization when there are opportunities for growth as well as scaling of the organizational ladder. Growth can be seen as a reward for input, ideas and productive work. This also dissuades employees from getting distracted by offers from other companies or organizations based on the fact that they know they can achieve their goals and ambitions in the current role they are.
Leadership in an organization is all about guidance and creation of ways and opportunities for people to achieve certain objectives and goals. This is a crucial part of an organization and any structure chosen should be beneficial to both the team as well as the workforce in a bid to stem disengagement. Real leadership in an organization should provide employees with an avenue for motivation to realize their potential as well as accomplish a greater objective in the organization. As with any role in an organization, issues do crop up even in a leadership position. These problems can either be internal, external or the circumstantial and it is important to note that how an organization’s leadership approaches these issues is critical to both the short term and long-term success of an organization as well as workforce engagement.
One of the internal leadership issues that can arise in an organization is lack of the delegation of duties. This can be defined as where the top management or leadership develops a “do it all alone” approach. This approach shuts out other people and does not believe in the sharing of duties and responsibilities with other individuals in the organization. Such an approach is detrimental to the overall success of an organization as it stifles the implementation of ideas and views from other people. In the long run, it also hurts the leader regarding bottlenecks and buildup of work related stress. An organization can approach such an issue by having boards to help management when it comes to the running of the company and having the manager or leader as an overseer of everything. This has an active collaboration effect on both the leaders and the organization as more people are involved in decision making and running of the company, thus having a cohesive and inclusive approach to running the business, Kourdi(2015).
Transition periods are also internal challenging times for leadership in any organization. These transition periods either be positive or negative, and it is up to management to figure out how to guide the team through these times. Active development times can be the implementation of a growth strategy due to profit making days while negative phases may include cost cutting measures, retrenchment of staff or shutting down of some processes. It is up to management to figure out how to deal with such scenarios without losing the trust of their employees. How leaders manage transition periods says a lot about their leadership capabilities and strategy. Organizations can have measures in place to guide leaders through tough transition times without shooting themselves in the foot, thus having an active case for all parties involved.
Recruiting personnel is another issue that organizational leadership faces. This entails hiring staff either in a hurry or without proper assessment of skills and capabilities. Such a scenario can be brought up by issues beyond the control of the organization. However, this should not be an excuse to hire personnel in a hurry. Proper staffing and interviewing guidelines should be put in place to avoid hiring wrong or unqualified personnel for any post despite the urgency to fill the role. As seen earlier, having the right staff with the right qualifications is one of the ways to increase workforce engagement.
Communication issues can also face any organization’s leadership. This can be as a result of those in leadership positions not communicating coherently and effectively to those further down the ladder. The method of communicating first or minor decisions can be a major factor in the cohesiveness and success of an organization. There are scenarios of top management making decisions on their own without consulting with other stakeholders in the organization. Such scenarios have a negative impact on any team. To handle such scenarios, organizations should have clear and defined communication channels to be followed when conveying any first or minor decisions touching on the team. Such a move will have an all-inclusive approach in the organization as well as make sure that any decisions and information are well received all the way down the organizational ladder.
Based on Korunka et al. (2010), it can be deduced that since leaders are people, they tend to suffer from burnout after being in stressful situations for extended periods of time. When this happens, the organization tends to suffer from a leadership void or unwise leadership decisions. To handle this issue, organizations should have clear and defined rest or leave days for those in leadership positions. This gives them the chance to refresh and recharge their batteries. Such a move will have a positive effect on both the leadership as well as the organization.
In a bid to cope with issues that can face an organization’s leadership, mechanisms and ways of keeping the leadership motivated should be created. Such arrangements should give the opportunity to discuss and review decisions as well as ease the burden of decision making from one person. According to Lerbinger (2012), leaders in any organization need to be ethical, practical, value staff and meet targets. They need to be in sync with corporate values as well as develop an environment that is open and reasonable. Such an approach will result in a positive effect on organizational performance and motivation, as well as, keep the leadership brass sufficiently motivated in their roles. Failure to deal with leadership issues can have an adverse impact on any organization, and this can result in reduced output, muted creativity and can render any company redundant or non-viable.
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