Re-thinking employee engagement holistically


The engagement model should encompass the important elements that can involve the employee in the growth of the company.

Employee engagement has recently picked up more pace and innovation as organisations are striving hard to keep employees happy and satisfied.

Gone are the days, when employee engagement activities were merely about having fun at work and a few other cultural festival celebrations. Employee engagement efforts now demand a more holistic view, where the employers need to gauge various employee preferences and needs.

However, first we need to define what we mean by employee engagement. Whether it should be a pull or push? I believe it should be a complete framework, where employees are first involved with the company business and vision and then engaged in various other activities connecting to the larger purpose of life. The engagement model should encompass the important elements that can involve the employee in the growth of the company.

Few areas which can bring about a huge difference in defining great engagement initiatives are:

Understanding the millennials: The HR leaders of the day are dealing with Millennials, Gen Ys and Gen Zs, who are very sensitive towards the social cause and also want to give back to the society in a constructive way. With that in mind, interesting CSR activities can be planned and initiated by organisations to involve such employees. In fact, giving them some choices will prove to be even more successful.

Wellness is a worthy investment: Employee wellness is another important initiative, which can engage and impress a lot of employees. The wellness initiatives, which are informative and provide future and current benefits to the employees and their families, can have a deep impact on the workforce. Companies, however, should ensure that the wellness engagement should be holistic and realistic. The programme should have a structured format in accordance with the age, gender, social conditions and geographies of the employees.
One of the programmes, which has been very successful in my current organization, is 8 Ws. It covers eight aspects of wellness engagements – social, spiritual, physical, environmental, financial, intellectual, professional and emotional wellness.

Learning goes a long way: Learning as a tool to engage and involve people is gaining much importance now. Companies should think of more social learning platforms, community learning, internal facilitations, guest faculty, thought leadership and encourage people to express themselves in any format.

Family comes first: Family connects have been old themes but are still effective. Companies should think of programmes to involve the families of the employees in some format. The family connect is one of the strongest engagement activities, which one can think of in times when most are moving away from these age-old yet meaningful practices.

Celebrate work: Celebration and fun at work have been there for some time and continue to be still in vogue. However, we should think of more team-based and unit- or BU-based celebrations. This gives people a good platform to connect with each other faster and effectively rather than formal companywide celebrations.

Collaboration is key: The best way to make people associate themselves with the organisation is to have them collaborate to create some of the policies, frameworks and company offerings. The companies can ask their people to create and collaborate on the policies, benefits and rewards offered to them.

Recognition beyond work: Companies should think of promoting the diverse talent amongst the employees. Every individual has versatile talent in some or the other extracurricular field. Companies can sponsor their people for different competitive platforms, sports activities, dance and music shows and various other events. This will not only motivate employees to pursue personal interests and hobbies but will also reflect in their happiness and productivity at work.

Seek genuine feedback: Continuous feedback from people through various anonymous surveys also creates a lot of faith and involvement, but it has to be followed by action taken on those feedback points. The management should take responsibility to report back to the people about the actions taken on their feedback.

Transparent and timely communication by the management team of the company is also a very important tool for employee engagement. If the CEO or the senior management team communicates through the technology or the social platform then it becomes a two-way process, which is very effective.

Gaurav Saini

Referrals beget loyalty: The employee referral programme is also an impactful tool, which so far has only been limited to the hiring process but can be used as an effective engagement initiative. It should be extended in the form of buddy programmes or mentorship initiatives to increase involvement of the people in the TA process.

Involvement of the employees in the external branding of the company can also be a very good tool for the engagement framework. We can use our people, their experiences, and also tenured people in the employer branding initiatives.

Last but not the least, most engagement activities end as soon as the employee resigns from the company. This is a wrong approach, as the company should be able to engage the people even after their separation in the form of alumni groups or referral programmes.

Employee engagement, a rather foundational activity that most organisations have been performing in various ways to keep their people happy, is seeing the light of a new day. With changing employee preferences, generational mix and the transforming workplace dynamics, organisations now certainly need to have a holistic outlook for designing efficient engagement initiatives.

(The author is director, people practices and head, L&D, Happiest Minds.)



  1. Good points.
    One more activity can be added, involving employees and their families to participate in Company’s CSR activities. This will give the employees a social satisfaction and recognition. This will be a very good feel good factor.

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