Employee engagement: Is the road smooth?

Is employee engagement easy to achieve?

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While employee engagement seems to be the favourite topic of discussion in the HR space today, there is no single mantra to ensure that each member of the workforce is successfully and totally engaged. But since organisations are all putting in effort to keep up their commitment towards employee engagement, they need to identify the hurdles that can foil their attempts, and do everything possible to clear them. The answers to the following questions can help organisations identify the hurdles, if any.

Does everyone know what employee engagement really is?

When are employees said to be engaged? Some would say it is when the employees are happy, and others would say it is when they are satisfied with their jobs. Actually, there is much more to it. Engaged workers are not only satisfied with their jobs, but also extremely motivated to give their best to the organisation, to which they feel a sense of belongingness. They always talk positive about their workplace and their employers, and feel a sense of pride in being associated with their organisation.

To make this happen, each one in the organisation should be made aware of what employee engagement truly means. This can be done through educative group sessions or even personal interactions with each staff member.

Is everyone on the same page?

For any activity or project to succeed, all those involved in it should share similar views, the same optimism and an equal amount of enthusiasm. Just as one rotten apple spoils the entire barrel, even one person who harbours the slightest bit of pessimism or negativity can weaken the entire team, or the whole workforce in this case. It is important for the management as well as the employees to feel and be convinced that everything is being done towards a common good, and that, no individual is doing anything for his own vested interest.

Each member of the workforce as well as the management should believe that it is all a collective effort to achieve a common goal, and that they all stand to gain as one organisation. Each one’s effort, hard work and contribution matters.

To convince the employees, explain to them the advantages of employee engagement and why it is so significant to any business. The employees should understand that it is not just a casual trend, but something essential to the organisation in the long term.

Does everyone in the organisation have a say?

Is the management the only decision maker? Are the workers’ voices heard? Are the suggestions given by employees considered and valued? If the answer is ‘yes’ to all these questions, then there will be little chance of employees being happy, leave alone being fully engaged. In an organisation where the workers are only expected to follow the orders from above, and adhere to rigid rules and regulations, they will never be able to establish a connect or bond with the management. If the management is all powerful and has full control over the workforce, the employees will feel suffocated and constrained. In such workplaces, even if the employees have progressive suggestions and ideas, they will hesitate to express them since they know their opinions will not be valued. Such organisations have dissatisfied and disengaged employees.

Allow your employees to think aloud. If a suggestion is good, appreciate it and consider it. If, for some reason the suggestion cannot be applied, explain the reason for the same to the employees.

Are workers obliged to stay beyond office hours?

Are the employees putting in extra hours simply to show that they are being productive? If so, this trend will cause more harm than good. When employees stay back after office hours to complete work or achieve targets, because they feel that is what their managers expect them to do, they are not really putting their heart and soul into the work. If they are trying to appear to be hard working simply to get a promotion or raise, or find a place in the good books of their managers, it is a forced effort. Such show of productivity does not really achieve much. While no meaningful work is done, the employees themselves are unhappy because they are compromising on their personal time with friends and family, simply to secure their position in the company.

Make everyone understand that merely clocking extra hours does not lead to high productivity. Let them know that the management is sensible enough to measure and notice genuine hard work and productivity; that simply sitting back after office hours does not make someone an excellent worker, nor does it take the organisation closer to its goals. Tell them how important it is to balance work and personal life.

If organisations are truly serious about achieving total employee engagement, the meaning and purpose of the same should be communicated clearly to one and all. The path to employee engagement may be full of hurdles, but none is too big to overcome.

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