What prompted me to write this post was a discussion on a Linked In group about the role of ‘Chief Inspiration Officer’ in an organization in inspiring employees and creating an engaged workforce. The fancy title caught my attention and I followed through the discussion. As always, the discussion had people with different viewpoints. While some thought that this is absolutely the ‘wave’ of the future, others were not very optimistic about the prospect for such a title. However the objective of writing this post is not to elaborate on the role of ‘Chief Inspiration Officer’. I will instead talk about the need for employee engagement at work.
It is a well accepted and often reiterated statement that for any business to be successful, it should be able to successfully execute its business strategy, not only once, but over and over again. To be competitive in the long run, every business needs to repeatedly do something that appeals to its customers. It also needs to possess some unique resources that continue to give the business an edge over its competitors. Such competencies and resources that are valuable, rare and inimitable render a sustained competitive advantage to an organization.
Though most organizations claim that their people are the source of their competitive advantage, but we know for a fact that only a few organizations succeed in effectively leveraging the intellectual capital and unique abilities of their employees to achieve extraordinary results. Creating and delivering value on a sustainable basis, calls for the presence of engaged workforce in an organization.
What does ‘Employee Engagement’ mean?
Employee engagement is defined as: ‘employees willingly contributing to the work while putting in intellectual effort, experiencing positive emotions at work and making meaningful connections to others at the workplace [[i]]. A study conducted by Gallup [[ii]] indicates that workplace engagement acts as a powerful catalyst for driving innovation within an organization and improves the business performance of the organization. People need to feel a purpose for what they do and build relationships in order to be entirely happy at work, and therefore more productive and creative. When employees are optimally engaged, they support the vision of the enterprise, put zeal and energy into their work and are most likely to contribute to innovations at workplace. Higher engagement levels are associated with positive outcomes both at the individual and organizational levels. These outcomes include higher performance levels, lower employee attrition, less absenteeism and raised levels of personal well-being.
Disengaged versus Engaged Employees
There are significant differences in attitude of engaged and disengaged employees towards their work and in the way they view their work company’s work practices.
- Disengaged employees usually redirect opportunities and avoid ownership.
- They view change as inconvenient and perceive feedback as a threat.
- They complete tasks merely for compliance and put up excuses when things get difficult.
On the other hand,
- Engaged employees own opportunities and improve contribution.
- They look at change as a means for evolution and acknowledge feedback as a mechanism for improvement.
- They complete task for contribution, and put in efforts when things get difficult.
An optimally engaged workforce results in more ‘fit-performers’ working towards building a more productive, more competitive and more a resilient organization. However we also need to remember that when engagement is increased to excessively high levels, it might lead to ill-health and burnout of employees.
Drivers for Employee Engagement
The paper ‘Creating An Engaged Workforce’ indicates that the key factors that drive employee engagement are:
- meaningful work,
- clarity of objectives,
- senior management communication style and vision,
- person – job fit,
- person- organization fit
- line management style,
- supportive work environment, and
- employee voice.
In my next post I will discuss more about these drivers and what companies can do to create an ‘Engaged Workforce’.