Drivers of Employee Engagement

Employee Engagement has transcended from being the latest business buzzword to being recognized by organizations as a tool that positively influences business performance. This linkage between organization performance and employee engagement was researched by ISR in 2006 by means of world-wide survey.

The ISR study reveals that companies with high engagement scores saw an increase of more than 25% in EPS (Earnings per Share), while companies with low engagement scores saw a decrease of 11% in EPS. The results confirm the belief of many that engagement positively influences business performance.

Hence, it is vital for companies to understand what “causes” employee engagement if they want to influence the “effect” i.e. Employee Engagement. By understanding these drivers and leveraging them, organizations can try and manage engagement levels of their employees.

So what drives employee engagement? Several theories have been propounded that focus on the rational and emotional aspects of engagement. Some even focus on the tangible and intangible aspects of engagement. Mercer’s ‘What’s Working’ studies reveal that engagement drivers differ by geography, by industry and even by time.

While there is no one panacea for leveraging employee engagement, there are some broad drivers which are presented below:

  1. Work/Job Role - Employees must see a link between their role and the larger organization goal. Understanding this linkage provides an intrinsic motivation and increased engagement. Most employees will come to work on time without possessing a sense of belonging and will try and complete assigned tasks even without possessing that sense achievement on completion of task. However, an employee that sees a clear linkage on how his/her role contributes to the organization will go the extra mile and help create organization wealth.

  2. Work Environment/Organization Culture - The bond between an employee and the organization is cemented when the employee identifies with the culture of the organization. An employee is engaged and motivated to stretch beyond the call of duty if he/she finds the work environment enabling and supportive.

  3. Rewards and Recognition - The bottom line is that people work to earn which helps fulfil ambitions. Equitable pay coupled with rewards and recognition programs enhances motivation and leads to commitment and engagement.

  4. Learning and Training Oppurtunities - As Lawyer (2006) put it - “People Enjoy Learning.” This is especially true in the case of today’s millennial workforce that constantly looks at enhancing knowledge and skill. Skill and Knowledge enhancement is not just important for the employees but providing a learning culture is essential for organizations to remain relevant in the constantly changing business landscape.

  5. Performance Management - An effective performance management system contributes positively to employee engagement. Goal setting lies at the root of any performance management system. Clearly articulated goals, a fair and just means to judge performance and timely, rational feedback are critical elements in creating a bond between the employee and his/her organization.

  6. Leadership - It is a well recorded fact that most resignations happen because the employee is not satisfied with his/her ‘boss.’ An organization that spends time and effort in grooming leaders who are aligned to its goals, culture and people invests well. New age industries have a young and dynamic workforce that looks for autonomy in decision making, increased responsibility and accountabilities.

  7. Other Factors - Clear and open communication, quality of interaction with peers, collaboration, organization policy, organization performance are all contributing factors to employee engagement.

We shall explore in each of the above mentioned drivers of engagement in the following chapters.

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