Employee Engagement Fundamentals

In a world where business leaders face a multitude of operational and strategic imperatives, an engaged and motivated workforce is an absolutely essential asset executives need at their disposal if they are to ensure their companies can compete in demanding markets.

While the value of effective employee engagement is widely recognised, a comparative study of business challenges that executives most often wrestle with by researchers at Walden University reveals that employee engagement is amongst the most prominent.

It is described as ‘hard’ work by executives because information regarding the effectiveness of initiatives in this regard is not always readily available. Compared to financial data and production outputs which can easily be parsed into quantifiable formats for assessment by executives. Gauging shifts in employee attitudes based on employee engagement interventions is viewed as more difficult – especially where there are no engagement platforms in place.

In a lot of heavy industries, the remoteness of operations, difficult working environments, coupled with limited physical facilities, all serve as deterrents for measuring and gathering employee engagement feedback. Thereby compounding the challenges executives experience in this business-critical area.

Viswanathan Kumar and Anita Pansari, researchers from Georgia University conducted extensive research on businesses across five continents to identify a framework for managers to aid in measuring and managing the different factors that drive engagement.

Their work highlights three facets that require constant monitoring and feedback in order for companies to benefit from their investment in initiatives. They also identify drift factors that are early signals that executives can identify via measurement tools of weakening engagement. These facets and drift factors are explored below.

A State of Satisfaction

Satisfaction is an employee’s emotional reaction to overall job circumstances and can include different job factors like their perception of business and unit leaders, remuneration and benefit structures, company culture and co-worker relationships.

The link between employee satisfaction and a firm’s profitability is well established. Various studies have noted that employee satisfaction affects customer satisfaction and production output, which has a direct impact on the bottom line.

By monitoring staff turnover, absenteeism and volunteerism (related to additional work duties) business leaders can assess the psychological state of their company. Higher than average absentee days are normally an indicator of employee dissatisfaction with their day-to-day work experience. It may also indicate a lack of clarity around unit or overarching business goals – which is often flagged as a concern by workers in the mining sector.

Identification as an Indicator

An employee who identifies with their employer organisation is inextricably linked to the company’s success or failure. In fact, employee engagement is considered to be synonymous with employee identification. Each company, irrespective of its size, is a social group in its own right and an employee that strongly identifies with this social grouping will be highly engaged.

An inattentive employee, with poor adherence to standard operating procedures and an unwillingness to put in extra effort to reach business targets, is usually displaying the characteristics of an individual that is not identifying with their employer.

Loyalty Levels

This comprises well-wishing, reciprocity of positive behaviour, and sacrifices on the part of the employee. Going beyond their specific job role to ensure that the work gets done and implementing their own cost-saving solutions to operational challenges, typifies the behaviour of this employee. Intellectual commitment to the organisation is also important in this sphere with the protection of ‘trade secrets’ and employee loyalty often showing a high correlation.

Low co-operation in team environments and an unwillingness to commit to specific work objectives are normally indicative of an employee with a waning sense of loyalty to their employer.

The researchers note that an amalgam of the various drift factors needs to be taken into consideration by business leaders when considering interventions. In this regard, employee engagement tools that bring together wide-ranging feedback from employees will aid executives in making the most impactful decisions.

Key Takeaways

In sectors where business strategies between competitors are often very similar because of market pricing mechanisms, employees are potentially a source of differentiation. Understanding how frontline employee engagement can be optimised to unlock the potential of this resource can be achieved by effective monitoring via an employee engagement app. To read about the essentials that should be in place to drive successful engagement, click here for more insights.

Contact us to talk to an Employee Engagement Expert today and find out how you can start your employee engagement journey.