Though most studies concentrate on acknowledging the relevance and significance of employee engagement from an organizational perspective, in this essay, the author deviates from the norm by asserting that the acknowledgment should be three-fold; employee, managerial and organization points of view.
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To justify the claim, the author establishes that by actively engaging employees, employees feel challenged, motivated, powerful and in full control of achieving their career aspirations or goals. On the other hand, managers experience ease when working with focused workforce to achieve the critical dream of managing enterprises to sustainability levels.
Moreover, according to Siddhanta and Roy (2010, 171), employee engagement has the significance of ensuring that organizations attain the need to satisfy the ever-changing client expectations in this competitive business environment.
This is the case because many have found it tough to compete effectively in this fully liberalized market where the law of competition has of late replaced the law of the jungle.
It is through the above frameworks that the author purposes to review literature on the debatable issues of employee engagement with the intention of deriving best practical managerial decisions.
In defining employee engagement, the author borrows the findings of the reputable HR firm BlessingWhite (2011, 5) to define employee engagement as the aligning of workers’ goals, aspirations and values to match those of the organization.
This empirical report goes ahead to relate full engagement to two variables: maximum job satisfaction that corresponded with maximum job contribution.
On a different note, having reviewed the various meanings of the term in most practitioner literatures and concludes that past scholars had advanced overlapping definitions, Saks (2006, 602) borrows from his comprehensive literature review to provide own summary of the definition as a distinct and unique concept made up of behavioural, cognitive and emotional variables all of which gave meaning to the individual role performance.
To add, Vaijayanthi et al (2011, 60), while also referring to the term as work or worker engagement, asserts that the term meant employees who were fully enthusiastic about and involved in their work and thus acting in ways that helped to attain their organizations’ interests.
The three scholars went ahead to discuss in their empirical study that since its emergence in 1920s, this concept has been an important and critical factor in determining the success of any organization. This is so because it tests how passionately employees are committed to live by the organization’s values (Vaijayanthi et al 2011, 60; Siddhanta and Roy 2010, 172).
In the literature review, the author notes that while carrying out an empirical research study to determine the factors that influenced employee engagement (what Saks subtitled as antecedents of employee engagement), Saks (2006, 604-605) establishes that job characteristics, rewards and recognitions, perceived supervisor support, procedural justice and distributive justice are the main factors affecting or predicting worker engagement.
To expound on the meanings of some of these factors, the renowned scholar defines job characteristics as being constituted by the identity of the task, variance in skill, the feedback mode, relevance of the task and the level of autonomy.
To add, while procedural justice refers to the perceived fairness in the means used to reward or distribute organizational resources, distributive justice defines perceived fairness in relation to the outcomes derived from management decisions (Saks 2006, 606).
Figure 1 illustrating the factors (antecedents) plus their effects (Source: Saks 2006, 605)
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More so, Ram and Prabhakar (2011, 48-49) concur with Saks’ (2006) findings and go ahead to provide little changes by combining perceived organizational and supervisor support. Another notable change is effected on the rewards scheme. Here, Ram and Prabhakar (2011, 48) come up with two types of rewards: intrisic and extrinsic.
The two scholars expound by stating that intrinsic rewards are those that are psychological in nature such as motivation while extrinsic rewards are those that are tangible in nature such as bonuses, benefits or the pay raise advanced by the employer to the employees.
To conclude on the factors, the author reviews the findings from Markos and Sridevi (2010, 89) and finds that these two scholars advance slightly contrasting findings.
To them, employee status, job satisfaction and operational autonomy are the key factors that employees yearn for in any job set-up (Markos and Sridevi 2010, 48). Also making it to the list of major factors impacting on worker engagement according to Mani (2011, 23) are employee welfare, growth and interpersonal development and empowerment.
Also, while reviewing what defines the different levels of employee engagement, Lockwood (2007, 3) articulates that there are three levels of employee engagement; each with its own description. To start with, engaged workers feel profound connection with their organization and thus work with passion to achieve success. Not engaged workers lack energy and passion into their tasks.
To end, actively disengaged workers are not just unhappy at their workplaces but are busy practising their unhappiness by undermining the efforts of their engaged co-workers (Lockwood 2007, 3).
On the other hand, Mani (2011, 18) carries out a study to determine the level of worker engagement among the employees at the executive level and notes in the concluding statement that the level of employee engagement amongst the executives is generally satisfying.
Tellingly, Siddhanta and Roy (2010, 173) identifies the three basic aspects of employee engagement as the employees plus their own experience or psychological makeup, the employers plus their ability to avail the conditions that promoted worker engagement and the interactions amongst employees at all levels.
Also, while commenting on the employers’ aspect, Herold et al (2008, 348) notes that the manner in which the employers treat or involve workers in effecting organizational changes is a powerful determinant to worker engagement as well as their response to the changes.
Giving their views on the first and the second aspects, Kumar, and Swetha (2011, 137) evidence that engagement and workers’ intentions to stay in the organization are influenced by experienced behaviours and the existing organizational relationships.
Conversely, while reviewing the steps that can be taken by organizations or employers to improve employee engagement, Kumar and Swetha (2011, 238) postulates that organizations should give attention to the perceptions of the employees with regard to the support they derive from the organization.
The two scholars go ahead to give the example of two sets of organizations: one that offers flexible working arrangements and the other that demonstrated support and care; all of which influence the employees to reciprocate with high levels of engagement (Kumar and Swetha 2011, 238).
On the other hand, BlessingWhite research (2011, p.31) argues that organizations should endeavour to build cultures that fuel engagement. Inferring from this report, this means aligning all to achieve maximum satisfaction and contribution (BlessingWhite 2011, 31).
In concluding its findings, the same report acknowledges that organizations should make efforts not to relegate engagement to an exercise that can be surveyed on a periodic basis (say annual). Instead, they should empower and equip junior employees, managers and their executives to drive results and engagement on a recurring or daily basis.
Nevertheless, on an interesting and fascinating note, Markos and Sridevi (2010, pp.93-94) identify ten strategies that need to be implemented by organizations to achieve worker engagement and hence improve performance. These are as explained below:
Management should set the stage by carrying out best recruitment as well as orientation programs. Once these are achieved, the management should supplement these efforts by creating and implementing employee retention strategies.
The second strategy involves demonstrating good leadership from the top through establishing and upholding of clear vision, mission and values. The third strategy involves enhancing a two-way communication. Succeeding this is the offering of satisfying opportunities to enhance employee growth and development.
The fifth strategy involves availing resources such as finance, stationary amongst others. The sixth strategy involves training employees to increase on their skills and knowledge. The seventh strategy is the development of a strong feedback system to hold both the employees and managers accountable to their levels of performance.
The eighth strategy is involved with offering incentives to motivate employees. The second last strategy is concerned with building a unique corporate culture defined on the organizational values and goals. The last and the tenth strategy stresses on focusing on engaging the highly performing employees (Markos and Sridevi 2010, 94).
A number of managerial implications are derived based on the findings presented in the above literature review. To start with, the result of the review point out that effective communication is the backbone behind the success of any engaged workforce.
This is the case because by communicating accurate and complete information, the management is likely to establish and foster trust amongst the team set-ups thus ensuring that improvements in productivity are achieved. This is supported by Markos and Sridevi (2010, 34) when they insist on the need to have a strong feedback system.
Moreover, it has been derived that there is need for managers to set the pace towards achieving employee engagement by upholding organizational code of conduct.
The code of conduct is a collection of written principles, rules, employees’ expectations, values and relationships. It is through acting as best examples that managers will be better placed to inspire their employees for competitive advantage.
To add, the review acknowledges that the top management should make efforts to make decisions that benefit not only those in managerial positions but all organizational stakeholders. This has been demonstrated by the great positive influence that the employee reward scheme has had on worker engagement (Saks 2006, pp.605; Ram and Prabhakar 2011, 48-49).
Likewise, it is imperative that organizations carry out small and steady incremental improvements as opposed to quick-fix or one time programs. This is derived from BlessingWhite (2011, 31) report that calls on the need to empower and equip junior employees, managers and their executives to drive results and engagement on a recurring or daily basis.
It is also implied that managers should embrace a culture of listening and addressing the needs of the surrounding ‘small voices’ to improve on employee engagement and hence the organizational performance.
In explaining what organizations needed to implement to enhance their performance, BlessingWhite (2011, 31) highlights that organizations need to endeavour to build cultures that fuel engagement.
To end on this subsection, it is also implied that in trying to improve on worker engagement, management should make efforts to look at the term in an overlapping context. This means that they should make efforts to understand the many sub-concepts or mini-aspects that are associated with the implementation of this major concept.
Past scholars have demonstrated that most companies are quick in assessing their end year performances and comparing them to the levels of worker engagement as opposed to understanding the key variables in worker engagement that might have influenced their results (Markos and Sridevi 2010, 89).
In conclusion, the author revisits that in its beginning, this study purposed to review literature on worker engagement and derive suitable managerial implications. The author asserts that this purpose has been well achieved. To start with, the author has presented a summarized introductory paragraph that clearly reveals the importance of the topic to the workers, the management and the organizations.
Following this, the author has also discovered that no universal definition has been crafted to define the concept of employee engagement. Succeeding this was a review of several concepts amongst them the factors, the steps and the aspects constituting employee engagement. Having reviewed literature, the author reflected on the findings from the literature review to derive suitable managerial implications.
In presenting a self reflection on the performance, the author considers himself/herself to have performed to a level of excellence. This is so because the findings and aspects discussed in this study are relevant and justified both from an organizational and learning perspective.
On the organizational perspective, the author notes that they can be used by managers to improve on their organizational performance. Lastly, on the learning perspective, the author notes that they can be adopted or referenced in future research.
BlessingWhite. 2011. Employee Engagement Report 2011: Beyond the Numbers: A Practical Approach for Individuals, Managers, and Executives. New Jersey: Princeton.
Herold, David M., Fedor Donald B., Caldwell Steven, and Liu Yi. 2008. “The Effects of Transformational and Change Leadership on Employees’ Commitment to a Change: A Multilevel Study”. Journal of Applied Psychology 93(2): 346-357.. doi 0.1037/0021-9010.93.2.346
Kumar, Pradeep, and Swetha G. 2011. “A Prognostic Examination of Employee Engagement from its Historical Roots.” International Journal of Trade, Economics and Finance 2(3): 232-241. http://www.ijtef.org/papers/108-F534.pdf .
Lockwood, Nacy R. 2007. Leveraging Employee Engagement for Competitive Advantage: HR’s Strategic Role. Alexandria: HR Society for Human Resource Management.
Mani, Vijaya. 2011. “Analysis of Employee Engagement and its Predictors.” International Journal of Human Resources 1(2): 15-26. doi:10.5296/ijhrs.v1i2.955 .
Markos, Solomon, and Sridevi M. Sandhya. 2010. “Employee Engagement: The Key to Improving Performance”. International Journal of Business Management 5(12): 89-96. Web.
Ram, Padmakumar, and Prabhakar Gantasala V. 2011. “The Role of Employee in Work-Related Outcomes.” Interdisciplinary Journal of Research in Business 1(3): 47-61. Web.
Saks, Alan M. 2006. “Antecedents and consequences of employee engagement.” Journal of Managerial Psychology 21 (7): 600 – 619. https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/02683940610690169/full/html
Siddhanta, Abhijit, and Roy Debalina. 2010. “Employee Engagement-Engaging the 21st Century Workforce.” Asian Journal of Management Research: 170-189. http://www.ipublishing.co.in/ajmrvol1no1/sped12011/AJMRSP1015.pdf
Vaijanthi, P., Shreenivasan, KA, and Prabhakaran Suma. (2011). “Employee Engagement Predictors: A Study at GE Power & Water.” International Journal of Global Business 4(2): 60-72. Web.