What drives Employee Engagement?
The backbone of any business is employee engagement. It’s a direct outcome of experience that thrives between the employee and the employer. The true foundation that lies behind employee engagement is trust, respect, and performance. Employee engagement is considered to be dynamic as it is bound to change during the tenure of an employee at the workplace as an outcome of multiple factors and events. Engagement as a concept is inherent and quite personal. In short, engagement focuses on the ‘me’ or ‘I’.
It’s the employees who decide whether they wish to be engaged. Although employee engagement has an emotional connection, it also has a rational context attached to it. While workplaces may appear to be quite similar, in reality, they are as unique as the individuals themselves who are a part of the organisation. This factor influences an employee to remain engaged with his or her organisation.
While there are several definitions of employee engagement, they have a couple of similarities such as rational, emotional, and practical features. However, apart from these factors, there are several other factors which are known as drivers of employee engagement.
Drivers of Employee Engagement
There are several types of drivers of employee engagement. As a manager, you can take the help of some of these drivers to influence the level of engagement of the employees of your organisation. However, the impact of these drivers cannot be gauged in isolation. In fact, it is the organisation’s culture and context which will compound or mitigate the impact of these drivers on employee engagement. Let’s go through some of these drivers of employee engagement.
One of the most significant drivers of employee engagement is the relationship between the manager and their employees. It’s this relationship that ties back to dissatisfaction or the level of employee satisfaction with either the work or the workplace. It rules the decision of the employees whether to continue at the workplace or to look for another job somewhere else. There lies a psychological contract between your employees and you as a manager. It all depends in the manner in which you communicate with your employees and what you communicate to them. As a manager, you face the obvious challenge of developing a professional yet genuine relationship with your employees. Such a relationship is likely to benefit the employee, the organisation, and of course you. We have already highlighted the fact that employee engagement is all about me or ‘I’ and the circumstances revolving around ‘I’. Hence it is essential for employees to attain a strong sense of autonomy and purpose in their work even if they are not in a position to control the outcome, product, or the final decision. This sense of autonomy and purpose ties back directly to their ownership of their work.
The term ‘Intrinsic motivation’ was coined by Kenneth Thomas in his second book that was based on motivation at work. The term indicates a certain sense of meaningfulness and progress that leads the employee to attach value to what he does and to form an emotional connection without being dependent on external factors. If you look close around, you will come across several examples of employees who remain engaged with their managers or their workplaces as an outcome of intrinsic motivation. In fact, it is this intrinsic motivation which helps them sail through difficult times at work.
Leadership entails varied meanings in different organisations. You need to understand the fact that leadership is a crucial driver of employee engagement that goes much beyond job titles. This is because not all leaders are managers and vice versa. As a manager, you have a significant responsibility to promote employee engagement. However, this depends on how you facilitate your employees to do their job, the manner in which you conduct yourself as a role model, as an individual, and convey messages via different channels. A leader is an individual who leads his or her people towards a common purpose and brings about a level of confidence within her team.
Performance management entails objectives, goals, and the way in which work is distributed to meet the organisational goals. This, in fact, is an ongoing process which commences when an employee is hired, and it ends when the employee quits.
Performance management includes workplace flexibility, resource allocation, work-life balance, and measuring an employee’s overall progress in achieving the desired outcome. This driver also entails the way in which high and low performing employees are managed along with the perception of employees on justice and equity.
Another significant driver of employee engagement is career development. The younger generation employees have the scope of working at several positions in various organisations throughout their lives. This is their graph of career development. However, the meaning of career development may vary for different groups. The only things which have not changed and are still as relevant today as it was years ago entail long-term career potential and promotion opportunities. These issues are crucial as they are directly connected to an employee’s intention to continue in the workplace, and this has a major impact on the business.
It’s a fact that when employees find opportunities for growth and development, they automatically have a stronger sense of loyalty attached towards the organisation as well as to their manager for enabling these opportunities for them. Such employees tend to stick around in the company for a longer period and are always ready to put in that extra effort and time as and when needed.
As a manager, you need to pay special attention towards the career growth and development of your employees. You must help your employees to set realistic expectations for their growth. You must also ensure that you can match the right opportunity with the right employee at the right time. In short, you should try to keep the bigger picture in mind when it comes to employee engagement.
Financial and External Incentives
Employee engagement is beyond financial and external incentives, yet these are considered to be significant drivers of employee engagement. Hence you cannot overlook them. Incentives, salary, and total rewards are important in the present economic climate where organisations have had to tighten their control on pay and benefits, as well as on costs in order to survive. However, employees still attach a great deal of importance to their remuneration and benefits packages when they need to make a decision of whether to continue in the organisation or to quit.
Organisation image entails the manner in which the outside corporate world and employees view the organisation. Nowadays employees are quite well informed and aware regarding an organisation’s reputation and image. The emotional connection that employees tend to feel for an organisation is based on the fact as to how others view it from outside and how employees view it from within. When individuals seem to look out for change, they are quite concerned about the reputation of the organisation and how others perceive it.
Brand Value Alignment
Another key driver of employee engagement is brand alignment. With the plethora of information available via multiple channels at the same time, it is quite simple for an employee to figure out whether the company is being consistent with its brand image and also what makes it stand out amongst its competitors in the market. Brand alignment ensures that people comprehend the brand values and its purpose and they actually ‘live the brand’ in whatever they do, wherever they do, and every time that they do it.
The million dollar question is where to begin when you wish to move employee engagement in a certain direction? If you have to choose one driver to address this issue, then focus on developing your relationship with your employees. If you know your employees as individuals, you will be in a relatively better position to decide which other drivers will be more meaningful for them and how and in what order you need to address them. After all employee engagement focuses on ‘me’ or ‘I’ as we have already established above.