These two little words seem so innocuous but they could spell the difference between success and failure for many firms. It is well reported that companies, which include highly engaged employees, deliver better business and financial results and the reason is clear.
Strong employee engagement means employees care about the company, their work and their colleagues. They are proud to say where they work and this attracts other high-achieving candidates.
Once in a position, which they appreciate and enjoy, employees are less likely to move. This translates into lower turnover and greater long-term, in-house experience. The end product is naturally, a superior commercial performance.
However, the formula for good employee engagement is not a one-size-fits-all. Every company will have its own unique and characteristic approach to fostering an environment of engagement. That said, the basic aims are always the same.
For example, psychological research shows that engagement levels directly correlate to an employee’s self-perceived status with their colleagues, the perceived positivity of workplace relationships, the autonomy they enjoy in their role and the overall fairness of the office environment. Tick all these boxes and engagement will follow.
There are, however, significant variables in office environments as to how this is achieved. What constitutes a good relationship in one workplace may not apply in another. Some organisations seem to benefit from the forming of ‘best friends’ and this promotes productivity. Other offices seem to benefit from a ‘frenemy’ being around to create a little competition and friction.
In both cases there will always be employees who lose engagement over time and this is where a company can really flex its engagement muscle. The practice of ‘recruitment front-loading’, of hiring the best and accepting that they move on when they become disengaged, is a typical HR strategy gone wrong.
A good employee engagement practice will grow and renew engagement, not go looking for it from outside when it can’t maintain it within. When employee engagement drops sharply, it’s time to take a good look to see what has gone wrong.
If we consider the four points above regarding status, relationships, autonomy and fairness in the workplace, we can see these are all aspects of a firm’s culture which can be moulded.
Specifically, they can be designed and delivered by the right leadership individuals and teams. Hiring genuine and inspirational leaders that understand their role in employee engagement is the first step to creating this preferred environment. However, this is a challenge in itself.
Many HR professionals will tell you that an employee needs to buy into the company’s purpose, mission, and values in order to be engaged. And while this may be true to some extent, most employees need more.
Ensuring that an employee has purpose and is provided with challenging and meaningful work from which they can develop, allows them to realise their value and to take pride in their engagement. And this, in turn, can create a great future leader.
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