Industry Insights

What is Employee Engagement and Why Does it Sounds Hot to Corporates?

3 years ago, Posted By

The corporate world is one twisted maze. Satisfyingly, it starts from the same point where it comes to a fulfilling (or sometimes outrageous) end. A bright, young and talented individual walks into the world of high-flying sheets of paper, computer screens and money—and walks out with tons of experience, mistakes, and wisdom.

We are all meant to be a part of this corporate maze. While some of us take the high road and lead the change from the front, many of us decide to be a reason for the change by working for the front-men.

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Either way, there are employers and employees in the micro-scale of a corporate enigma. And where there are employees, there’s an indispensable force of employee engagement. Make no bones about it—if a workplace doesn’t know what employee engagement is, then that ship is destined to go down.

If you’re thinking that employee engagement has something to do with foosball tables, weekend brunches at work and happy hour drink-fests, then you don’t know what is employee engagement. The workforce might be buzzing like happy campers and they still won’t be called as “engaged” employees, because there’s more to it than just that.

Let’s understand what employee engagement is actually about, why it affects people at work and how it can make (or break) fortunes of employers and employees. As both the components are like lock and key and one are of no use without the other, let’s understand what employee engagement means from both the perspectives.

How do you Define Employee Engagement?

If you look at the textbook words that define what is employee engagement, it goes something like this:

“Employee Engagement defines how determined and passionate employees are about their jobs, how committed they are to the organization’s doing and whether they put discretionary effort in what they do.”

If you look at it, the definition of employee engagement hovers around a few basic principles:

  • Firstly, it highlights how employee morale is not just there to keep the employees “happy”. It is what drives the performance of the organization to a better stage than where it presently is.
  • Engagement directly impacts an organization’s results and standing. No matter how much money is pushed in, engagement cannot be bought with it.
  • “Employee” engagement is a workforce oriented approach. An engaged employee is dead set on putting all the efforts in what s/he does.

But the question is that if employee engagement is so “employee” oriented, then what’s in it for the employer? Let’s understand what employee engagement is all about for the workers and how the bosses profit from it.

What is Employee Engagement from the Jobber’s Cubicle

When you ask an employee of the organization “what is employee engagement”, you probably won’t get a whole lot of direct answers. But to sum it all up in a single sentence:

“Employee engagement is the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals.”— Kevin Kruse (Forbes Contributor, NY Times Best Selling Author)

It might strike to some people that this definition is too short to justify what employee engagement is. But in reality, when you look at it from employee’s spectacles, it’s all a game of devotion and feelings that the employees carry for the organization.

A fictional example can be taken from NBC’s The Office—where the character of Dwight Schrute, portrayed by Rainn Wilson, is uncanny yet one of the highest-ranking paper salesmen, thanks to his undying spirit.

Whether an employee stays engaged or not, begins from the moment s/he is unveiled as a part of the organization. An engaged employee understands her role in an organization and she has her sights poised on where and how she can help the organization in achieving its purpose and objectives.

Dedicated employees are proud of the fact that they’re part of a team, something that blesses them to focus clearly on organizational objectives. With the right tools, the management has all the power to infuse personal aspirations with goals of the masses.

All in all, employee engagement ensures that the employee thinks straight, feels empowered, receives constructive feedback and develops skills that outshine his/her resume—all of that while achieving organization’s objectives.

What is Employee Engagement from the Boss’s Cabin

They say that only the Talisman has wits to look at the bigger picture. While employee engagement might sound like just another office shenanigan to you and me, the boss actually knows how crucial it is in accomplishing objectives.

“Employee Engagement is the art of getting people to believe what you want them to believe.” – Jim Whitehurst (CEO, Red Hat Software)

If you compare this definition to the one highlighted in the previous part, you’ll realize how diverse it is. What is employee engagement in the eyes of the boss is a whole lot different than the employee’s version and it’s because of where they are in this game of proverbial ladders and designations.

Although in this game one’s the boss and another is, well, not the boss, there’s a bridge that brings employees and the employer to a common platform—and that is the bridge of common objectives.

The definition of what employee engagement is from the employer’s perspective might sound harsh, but it is what makes the phenomena possible. The boss has a dream in mind—one that’s carefully crafted with inputs of his/her counterparts, and it can only be realized if the workers are on the same page.

Tons of management books by the most prolific and learned of authors highlight how crucial it is to bring organizational and personal goals on a similar platform, and that’s what employee engagement does.

Managers and Employers know that people who are highly engaged at work deliver a greater value to the organization. Not only that—their personal life has a direct impact, as well as they, experience a better quality of life at work. An employee that goes home happy stays happy.

Even the most serious of concerns like employee turnover, absenteeism, and unfavorable workforce relationships can be solved if employees are engaged to their work and life at work.

Furthermore, employee engagement leads to bigger changes like a pristine brand image and increased profitability. All of this is a catalyst—a butterfly effect that leads to the betterment of the organization. Isn’t that what the boss wants?

But What if there’s Employee Disengagement?

Many organizations don’t know what is employee engagement and they abstain from its voluntary perusal. It might be sheer luck if employees are engaged without paying special attention to this factor, but employee engagement isn’t a one-off thing.

Employee Disengagement is a phenomenon wherein employees lose their productivity factor and they “get low” because what they do isn’t helping the organization. Be wary—a disengaged employee might be having a jolly time at workplace but that doesn’t mean that s/he is engaged.

Employee disengagement leads to disastrous after-effects like wastage of money, efforts, and internal conflicts. Cases of employee disengagement exist in every other organization and in most cases, bosses even know that the employee(s) in question aren’t doing things right.

But not many acts on it, and that’s why employee disengagement is not addressed that seriously as an issue that it should be. To understand what the potion that cures disengaged employees is, we need to understand what is employee engagement—which now you do.

The Crux: Engage ‘em if You Wanna keep ’em

Conclusively, it can be said that employee engagement is a sturdy force that works in both employees’ and employer’s favor. But in a truer sense, the science behind employee engagement actually leads to bigger and better results.

Doug Conant (CEO, Campbell’s Soup) highlighted a basic trick of employee engagement. “To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace”, and employee engagement gets you the win that both jobbers and the boss need.

Now we know the answer to the question “what is employee engagement”. Now keep the fun parties running and stay engaged in the game!

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