Employee engagement is said to have started in 1990, the concept introduced by Kahn in his “Psychological Conditions of Personal Engagement and Disengagement at Work” article. Though the term “Employee Engagement” was coined later, the study primarily focussed on harnessing the personalities and energies of people to their work. But does that really mean that an employee who is positively engaged with an organization is being more productive at work and vice versa?
There is immense amount of research being done on the drivers of employee engagement and how people with different personalities respond to those drivers. For some people the culture of an organization is the key driver and for some others the nature and quality of work they are doing. There seems to be no pattern that employees, who are complex human being follow to these drivers. So, how does an organization create a winning formula to engage all or most of its employees? Is it even possible? We have seen and/or heard stories of employees who deliver to the best of their abilities even in the most difficult cultures, with managers who are toxic, purely because of the value they attach to their work, or maybe because accountability is a part of their core personality. We all also have examples of the most engaged employees loafing away their time.
Thus, if the objective of an organization is to make sure that employees are productive, their wellness is being taken care of and they have a long-term relationship with the organization, employee engagement may not be a complete answer. This is primarily because whether an employee is engaged or not is to do more with the personality of the employees and less with what any organization is doing to engage them. So, while organizations continue to conduct Employee Engagement Surveys and identifying news ways to engage employees, what they need to keep in mind is that a lot of times, it is up to the employee to feel engaged due to your mechanisms of engaging. And hence, today’s organizations need something more concrete to get return on investment from their employees.
I wonder why no organizations never calculate and communicate about the value the organization is creating for its employees in their lives, both professional and personal.
I most optimistically believe that while employees are busy creating value for their organizations, the reverse is also happening. The more the value an employee creates for an organization, the more valuable he/she is for the organization. Now that got me thinking as to why we have never assessed the reverse of it. When an organization gives increment, shares bonus, appreciates the family of the employee etc., there is value creation happening for the employees. And that value creation, could be the reason for an employee to do his/her best for the organization, stay engaged and also look for long term employment at the organization. Sub-consciously the value creation that happens on both the sides over a period of time is pretty much proportionate.
Now, for this to function well, organizations and key Human Capital contributors need to understand what people value at different stages of their lives and create a value creation program accordingly. It also means that the organizations go explicit in valuing the personal lives of its employees and when the employees are asked to stretch, the organization finds a way to create equal value in the personal life of that employee.
If we look back, we all have had many experiences where our organizations created the much-needed value for us or failed to do so. E.g when an organization expects an employee to relocate to a new city, covering for the relocation expenses is to make sure that the organization does not miss on the right talent due to transactional issues. But it also is creating value for the employee by saving him/her the money and making the initial days in a new city smooth.
So, the organizations may be doing all it takes to create value for the employees, there is need to change the way they communicate with the employees about this. This could bring tremendous change in the way employees look at organizations, and don’t look to tag along only till such a time that they have a better paying job. The employees value the organizations the way organizations value its employees.