AS said last week, today, we shall begin another journey in our management discussion by looking at “Improving Employee Engagement and Productivity”.
We will examine the reasons why many organisations are witnessing drops in employees’ productivity and engagement? Whether periodic, or due to recent changes in the organisation, or a derivative of lethargy and unfavourable organisational policies that do not support employees’ growth. It is important to note that, it is not all reductions in employees’ productivity that can be related to a particular circumstance. Whether an organisation made a change or not, the effects of either of the actions will be felt on employees’ productivity.
Though, it is germane for a leader that is contemplating restructuring the workforce or other activities that might have direct impact on the employees to critically consider the effects of such actions by putting in place structures and systems that are capable of absorbing the initial shock and/or losses in employees’ productivity and engagement.
I will discuss the topic following this outline; Introduction; Myths about employee engagement; what is employee engagement?; the emotional aspect of employee engagement; the four levels of employee engagement; benefits of employee engagement; the role of managers in engaging employees; key drivers of employee engagement for a high performing workforce; the roles of human resources and management; barriers to employee engagement; overcoming barriers to employee engagement; take-home code (this is a handy summary of the paper recommendations) and conclusion.
The rate of change in the workplace is getting increasingly rapid; this is not unconnected with the availability of information brought about by the advancement in technology. Employees’ views are getting more divergent, they are now concerned with who is occupying what position. Even their wants, desires, needs, and motivations have also changed. What inspired yesterday’s workforce is not what drives the current employees. Therefore, leaders must acknowledge this reality with the hope of putting in place strategies to encourage workplace diversity and productivity.
MYTHS ABOUT EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT
What strikes our consciousness when we talk about Employee Engagement? Is the term employee engagement about having busy employees with little or no output to show? Or paying heavy salary and allowances just to keep the staff motivated without recourse to productivity? Or get the job done only by the few employees who you are sure can deliver results? The first thing we need to do as managers when we talk about employee engagement is to recognize the following;
I. That an employee is very sincere does not make him/her an engaged employee. Being punctual and regular at work, though a very good way to measure an employee’s commitment in a way does not adjudge the employee as being engaged.
An employee might be sincere but disengaged if the employee cannot stretch himself or herself to actualize the goal of the organisation or the manager finds it very difficult to measure and/or ascertain the employee’s contribution(s) to the growth of the organisation. No wonder we have so many employees in some organisations with little or no results to show for it.
II. It is erroneous for managers to believe that employee engagement is an expensive venture. Most of the ingredients that drive employee’s engagement are very cheap only that most managers find them difficult to incorporate into their day to day dealings with subordinates. What does it cost an average manager to appreciate an employee? Employee recognition, appreciation, and effective communication should all be part of an organisation’s practices and/or culture which to a large extent are not what will cost the organization a fortune, that is, if it’s going to involve any cost at all.
III. Believing that employee engagement is the responsibility of only the human resources manager is fallacious, it is a collective responsibility. It is the responsibility of everyone in the organisation irrespective of positions or job functions. Though the human resources department may champion the term, for the output to be good, everyone must be involved.
IV. It is also a myth to think that happy employees are engaged employees. In as much as engaged employees are happy employees that might not mean the same the other way round. It is necessary for managers to strive to build a happy workforce, but that is not sufficient to conclude that because the employees are happy, they are engaged.
An organisation is a serious setup, people are brought in to deliver results, therefore, as managers are trying to create a comfortable work environment, it behooves the employees to translate their happiness to being committed and deliver value to the organisation. It is only then that it can be said that they are engaged. The happiness that does not positively affect the bottom line will soon run the organisation into oblivion.
V. Finally, it is important to mention that employee engagement is a concept that has come to stay, it’s real, and it’s practicable. Therefore, it is a myth to believe that it is one of the trends that will disappear soon because the more the employees are getting informed and exposed the more it behooves the manager to get them engaged.
What then is employee engagement?
To be continued next week.
Sunday Ade Bello is a multi-talented, analytical and highly qualified Management Trainer, Inspired Writer, Examiner and Education Specialist. He is the CEO of WorkLife Training Professionals, Lagos. (firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com)