Employee Engagement as a Tool for High-Level Business Purposes and a Thing in Itself
Engagement: Definitions and Comparison (Involvement, Commitment, and Participation)
Determining the essence of employee engagement (EE) as a phenomenon is a rather tricky task. Because of the elusive nature of the subject matter, as well as the array of factors that affect it, it is comparatively hard to detect the components of EE. Therefore, providing a definition for the concept is also a rather intricate process.
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CIPD (2015) asserts that the Utrecht University Group has captured the essence of EE and provided an impeccable definition for the concept. According to the findings of the study conducted by the Utrecht experts, EE can be summarised as “a positive, fulfilling, work-related state of mind” (Bailey et al., 2015, p. 52).
However, CIPD members also stress that the current definition could use refinement when applied to the workplace environment. For instance, the focus on maintaining a consistent performance quality could have been included in the description provided above. CIPD suggests that the following should be viewed as the model explanation of what EE is: “being positively present during the performance of work by willingly contributing intellectual effort, experiencing positive emotions and meaningful connections to others” (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development 2016a, para. 5).
One should distinguish between the concepts of EE, involvement, commitment, and participation. According to CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development 2016a), while EE implies positivity and connection, involvement concerns primarily being informed about the company’s progress. Commitment is traditionally rendered as loyalty, whereas participation does not incorporate enthusiasm as opposed to EE. Therefore, involvement, commitment, and participation can be viewed as the components of EE (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development 2016a).
Behaviors and Signs of Engagement in My Organisation: Analysis
Organizational Citizenship. According to the existing definition, the phenomenon of the corporate citizenship can be rendered as the employee’s loyalty to the company and acceptance of its values and ethical stance (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development n. d.).Employee loyalty is valued highly in the company in which I work.
As a result, the staff members develop a commitment to the company. Their satisfaction and engagement can be traced by considering their performance indicators, which are very high, and the decisions that they make when addressing company-related issues. Furthermore, the ethical values that the firm’s operations are based on being promoted to the employees with the help of the transformative leadership approach and active use of an appealing model of organizational behavior.
Discretionary Behaviour. Discretionary behaviour, which implies making the decisions that are based on one’s complete understanding of their roles and responsibilities in the context of an organisation (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development n. d.), is encouraged at my company actively. The managers explain to each employee what role they lay in the organisation. Thus, the people working for the firm feel valued and important.
Engagement. Incentives and public appraisals used by managers have a very positive effect on the employees’ performance. Although there is a minor competitiveness issue, the overall workplace environment is invigorating and encouraging to excel in our performance.
Non-Engagement. The individual approach adopted by the company managers to spur the staff’s performance allows bringing down the non-engagement rates.
Disengagement. The signs of disengagement are spotted immediately and addressed correspondingly by managers. The employees with low engagement rates are suggested support in managing their personal (e.g., family-related) concerns.
Psychological Contract: Definition and Examples
The idea of the psychological contract as the mutual awareness of the parties involved in signing the contract about their obligations toward each other, as well as their responsibilities in the context of the agreement (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development 2016b) is not new. However, it was not until the 1990s that the concept started being used actively by organisations. Nowadays, the psychological contract is considered one of the most essential building blocks for successful organisational performance (Marescaux et al. 2015).
In my organisation, the phenomenon of the psychological contract is used sometimes to enhance the employee loyalty rates. However, the members of the entrepreneurship do not seem to be very trustful to the employees, since rigid supervision is a part and parcel of the work-related processes.
Exploring Empirical and Philosophical Connections in the Workplace
Changes Assessment: Of What a Manager Should Be Aware
Employee Expectations. As an employee continues working in the environment of a particular company, their goals and aspirations are likely to change. The company’s strategy, in its turn, must be in chord with the changes that the employees experience. By coordinating the process of the company’s evolution with the employees’ professional and personal growth, the firm creates a psychological contract with its staff members, therefore, paving the way to their further successful collaboration (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development 2005).
Instrumentalism and Its Dysfunctional Consequences. Problem-solving and not the focus on the description of objective reality can be viewed as the philosophy of instrumentalism. Therefore, the use of instrumentalism in the managerial strategies is likely to have an oppositional effect on employee engagement, making the staff members see themselves as tools.
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Task Simplification. On the one hand, creating the environment, in which the staff members are not exposed to the workplace burnout, is imperative to maintain the staff engagement rates high. On the other hand, it is crucial to make sure that the staff members could complete challenging tasks that compel them to learn more and grow professionally. Therefore, the simplification of tasks is not to be viewed as the ultimate goal of the company. In other words, it is crucial that the employees could have an opportunity to make a discretionary effort when completing job-related assignments (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development 2008).
Scientific Management. The use of essential theories related to the behavioural science domain is imperative to construct the strategy that will later on be used to motivate the staff. Scientific management will help understand by what the staff members are driven.
Engagement Practices and Their Significance: HR Differentiation
Importance of Engagement Practices. As a recent report published by CIPD shows, the significance of engagement practices is very high as it helps not only their performance rates but also the quality of the product and the services provided (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development 2015b). Specifically, the application of the HR differentiation tool sets the premises for a detailed analysis of the unique needs that the staff members have.
Indeed, applying a uniform approach toward addressing the staff’s demands is barely sensible as each of the personnel members has their unique aspirations. Granted that there are similarities between the goals of the target audiences (e.g., the necessity of a financial gain, the urge to be recognised for professionalism and workplace performance, etc.), the ways, in which the organisation can deliver the necessary items are very numerous, and the efficacy of the chosen strategies hinges on the cultural context in which they are applied. Therefore, a detailed research on the specifics of the target audience should be interpreted as the priority of the organisation.
Examples and Pieces of Evidence. For example, the process of HR differentiation may occur on the basis of the ethnic and cultural background of the staff. In case the company employees ethnic and cultural minorities, it is important that their rights should be recognised and that they should not encounter the phenomena that are interpreted as shocking or inappropriate in their culture. The gender-based differentiation could also be viewed as an opportunity to meet the needs of employees.
For instance, the changes made to the benefit package so that it could include payment for maternity leave allow gaining the appreciation and gratitude of the female company members. As a result, the engagement and loyalty rates among them are likely to grow significantly. Age-based HR differentiation is another tool for addressing the unique needs of the staff. Finally, analyzing the way in which the members of the company would like to acquire the related knowledge and shaping the training sessions for competency improvement to help them attain the best result may become a legitimate HR differentiation approach.
Gravity of the Critical Contribution of an Employee: Striving for Excellence
Principles of High Performance Working: Analysis
According to CIPD, there are several crucial principles of high performance working. Typically referred to as bundles, the identified principles are arranged so that they could be used to facilitate high employee involvement, successful human resource management, and the practices related to providing reward and enhancing commitment (Sung & Ashton 2005).
As the CIPD research states, it is crucial to maintain high involvement rates among the staff members so that they could strive to enhance the company’s growth. Measuring the degree to which the members of the organisation are involved in its growth and concerned about its further success might be somewhat tricky as it is comparatively hard to quantify the staff’s emotional attachment rates.
However, CIPD suggests that the levels of involvement should be measured with the help of surveys. Thus, the necessary qualitative information and statistical data can be collected for the further analysis. More importantly, the trends that the employees show as far as the involvement issue is concerned can be identified so that the possible issues could be located at the earliest stages of their development. As long as the problems in the company’s HR strategy design do not grow out of proportion and remain controllable, efficient tools for addressing them can be designed.
Exploring the Meaning of World Class Service/Corporate Performance
According to the CIPD perspective, to gain the title of the world class performing entrepreneurship, a company must reward high performers and seek out the staff members that are most willing to contribute to the firm’s further evolution: “It has a simple formula, that is, with success, you need to reward hard work, innovation and commitment handsomely” (Sung & Ashton 2005).
Differently put, in order to succeed in the global economy environment, an organisation must invest in its human resources. Offering extensive opportunities for training and acquisition of new skills, as well as essential knowledge and information related to the area of the staff’s competence, is crucial to the organisation’s wellbeing.
Thus, although the concepts of class service and corporate performance typically imply that the organisation should strive to attain high customer satisfaction rates, they also mean paying especially close attention to the company’s personnel. Unless the tools for improving the employees’ expertise in their target area are provided, an organisation is likely to suffer a gradual downfall while its members will gradually become increasingly more disorganised and disinterested. Extensive options for personal and professional growth, on the contrary, are likely to galvanise the personnel, compelling them to improve their performance consistently.
Stimulating Engagement by Aligning Cultural, Strategic, and Operational Practices
Apart from the focus on strategic and operational concerns, a firm must also be geared toward the recognition of the employees’ cultural specifics. As a result, the environment for successful communication between the organisation and its members is created. Unless the missions and values of the company are in chord with the goals and values of each member of the personnel, successful cooperation will not be a possibility. Furthermore, the discord between the values of the employees and the ones that the company promotes is likely to become the stumbling block of the staff–manager communication process.
The fact that the inconsistencies between the values upheld by the organisation and the ones that the staff members view as the foundation for decision-making will affect the quality of the services and, therefore, the levels of customer satisfaction, also must be mentioned as the reason for the alignment between the identified variables. Indeed, unless the employees are convinced that the principles of the company’s operations and communication must serve as the foil for making company-related decisions, there will be a threat of the teams working in the firm to solve emerging problems based on their own concept of customer relations.
As a result, the organisation may be exposed to the threat of customer–employee conflict or, worse yet, corporate fraud. Thus, there is a pressing need to make sure that the essential values of the organisation are promoted to the staff members as the principal guidelines for them to make their work-related choices. Finally, the fact that corporate values contribute to creating organisational consciousness needs to be addressed: “Organisational consciousness is a state of existence or paradigm and mechanisms like culture, values, corporate social responsibility, business ethics and various stakeholders as antecedents in the framework” (Adjmal & Lodhi 2015, p. 203).
Relationships Between Levels of Employee Engagement and Organisational Performance: Analysis
Research, Experiential and Anecdotal Evidence and Examples. A closer look at the way in which addressing EE on different levels has on the performance of the staff members and their motivation rates will show that there is a direct correlation between the variables mentioned above. Te degree, to which the staff members engage in the company’s processes, in general, and the tasks that they are assigned, in particular, determines the success of the outcomes.
The CIPD research states that several levels of engagement exist. Traditionally, a self-explanatory classification including the low, the medium, and the high performance levels is suggested. The taxonomy helps carry out a quick assessment of the staff’s motivation rates, as well as the EE levels in the organisation (Gatenby et al. 2008). Furthermore, the degree of EE makes it clear whether the staff members are provided with enough challenges and opportunities for expressing themselves.
The results produced by CIPD, while quite basic and expected, beg the question whether there is a possibility of raising the EE levels too high and, therefore, harming the company’s performance. For instance, by building the team of overly engaged staff members that will excel in their performance to improve the quality standards to the maximum, a company may face an increased rate of workplace burnout (Trepanier et al. 2014). The subject matter is especially significant in healthcare organisations; for example, a recent study indicates that the emphasis on increasing performance results affects nurses negatively, triggering workplace burnouts and even the instances of depression (Laschinger & Fida 2014).
The lack of EE, in its turn, is also likely to hamper the productivity of an organisation. My personal experience as a team manager in the marketing department shows that the staff’s reluctance to search for innovative tools that help resolve related problems is likely to lead to the production of an inefficient strategy. In the described situation, the lack of progress will be the best-case scenario whereas the firm’s ultimate bankruptcy will be the worst-case outcome.
Cause-Effect Relationships: Examples of Problems and the Line Between the Reality and the Rhetoric. The process of drawing a line between reality and rhetoric may turn out to be rather tricky due to the possible lack of understanding of the environment in which the staff members work. Although the concepts of value, engagement, and other crucial components of organisational performance improvement might seem well-coordinated on paper, when applied to a real-life scenario, they may turn out to lack substance. Therefore, there is a pressing need to identify the links between the rhetoric used by the company’s leaders and the reality in which the employees operate.
To make sure that the rhetoric used by the managers aligns with the reality that the employees have to face on a regular basis, the use of tools for collecting information about the actual workplace environment should be viewed as a necessity. For example, surveys could be incorporated into the firm’s system of information management to gather the necessary data and shape the rhetoric correspondingly.
By distributing surveys and questionnaires with open-ended questions among the personnel, the firm is likely to gain important knowledge of, and a much better insight on, the challenges that the company members face, the needs that they currently have, and the opportunities that they pursue. As a result, a comprehensive strategy for addressing their needs and improving their performance can be designed. By doing so, the company will acknowledge that it values its staff members.
For example, a drop in the employees’ productivity has recently been witnessed in the organisation that I work for. To handle the problems, the HR managers used a rather simple tool for information acquisition. They created a box for complaints and suggestions that every staff member could contribute to without the fear of being singled out.
After a quick analysis of the data submitted, the HR personnel came to the conclusion that the staff is unmotivated due to the lack of flexibility in their schedule and the tight control of the managers. As soon as a more flexible schedule was introduced and the control became less rigid, the performance rates rose by an impressive 17% margin.
Increasing Employee Engagement Rates: Action Plan
Employee Engagement as a Strategic Imperative: Company Assessment
Despite the changes mentioned above, the lack of employee engagement still can be deemed as one of the crucial reasons for concern in my organisation. It would be wrong to claim that the people are completely unengaged. However, whenever they perform certain tasks, it becomes evident that they do not strive for the benefit of the company but, instead, follow the guidelines blindly.
Complete compliance with the corporate rules is definitely not a reason to accuse people of being uninterested in the firm’s wellbeing; however, their attitude, which shows that they are unwilling to think and analyze, clearly is. Therefore, the organisation needs a change in the motivation approach used to convince the employees to perform.
Indeed, even though the organisation experienced a minor improvement in the personnel performance (i.e., the 17% mentioned above), the profit rates have returned to their previous mark recently. While the introduction of the approach allowing of a rapid collection of feedback was a breeze of fresh air, it did not last long as it did not affect the core problem that made the employees feel reluctant to make any effort. Thus, it can be assumed that, though addressed at some point, strategic imperative as defined by CIPD has never been pursued in the firm (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development 2015a).
Consequently, the firm needs an action plan that will help define the root cause of the problem and eliminate it successfully. As soon as the factors affecting the employees’ reluctance are out of the company’s system, a strategy for improving the staff’s performance delivery can be built and incorporated into the framework of the entrepreneurship.
Examples: Increasing Engagement Rates Among the Members of Various Departments
A closer look at the company’s design and the way in which the employees operating in different departments work will reveal that there are some crucial problems with the company’s EE strategy design. The absence of a proper information management strategy along with the unwillingness of the staff members to share the data that they can use to perform their task appropriately has a direct and a very negative effect on the overall performance rate of the entrepreneurship.
For instance, the current L&D approach is geared toward meeting the individual needs of the employees, which is a good characteristic of the project. However, the grading system introduced into the L&D design sends a wrong message to the staff, compelling the, to compete with each other. This competition has its toll on the quality of their performance, since essential pieces of information are withheld by staff members to use them for their professional benefit.
One must admit, though, that the current approach to L&D encourages the staff members to learn new information within impressively small amounts of time. Nevertheless, knowing that they might lack essential pieces of data, the personnel members are often unwilling to start working on their projects, knowing that the latter are likely to fail when tested in the real-life environment.
The employer branding approach, however, is quite legitimate. Focusing on the customers and their needs, the organisation knows exactly what the target audience wants and how to deliver the required product to them. What makes the current employer branding strategy somewhat wobbly is the lack of understanding of how the staff members are motivated. Therefore, the selection of the KPIs used to improve the delivery of the required services is rather questionable. Overall, the entrepreneurship leaders should consider determining the employees’ needs so that a more coherent KPI framework could be created (Barrow 2007).
Future of the Psychological Contract: On the Edge of Change
In light of the fact that the organisation leaders need to learn more about the needs and aspirations of its staff members, the enhancement of the psychological contract significance in the corporate environment must be viewed a necessity. Although each employee has a unique set of needs and characteristics, designing the approach that will help meet the requirements of all personnel is a possibility.
Specifically, the entrepreneurship should change the current corporate values and vision so that both could reflect its attitude toward the needs of employees. It is essential that the company’s vision and mission should reflect its understanding of the significance of the staff’s personal and professional development, as well as a friendly and favourable workplace environment. As soon as the necessary changes are introduced into the firm’s design, a significant change in the performance quality is expected.
Another crucial change that needs to be carried out for the company to build the path to establishing a psychological contract with the staff members and convincing them to excel in their performance is focusing on information management. The identified step includes both providing the tools that will enhance the process speed contributing to connectivity and the redesign of the current communication patterns adopted and used by the employees. For example, the fact that the personnel tends to prevent eh process of data sharing can be considered detrimental to the organisation’s success.
By refusing to share essential pieces of information, the employees cause corporate strategies to fail on a number of levels, including the marketing processes, customer communication, logistics, etc. Therefore, the introduction of the basic concepts of knowledge sharing and the reduction in the competition rates in the organisation must be viewed as the next essential step in improving the firm’s performance indicators.
Furthermore, the promotion of an entirely new communication approach based on the principles of data sharing, clarity, transparency, and trust will build the environment in which the staff members will be inclined to communicate with the managers efficiently. as a result, feedback will be collected from the target audience faster and processed successfully. Herein lies the premise for a psychological contract to be implemented in the company’s’ design.
Gaining Support from Staff and Overcoming Resistance to Change
Needless to say, it is expected that the staff member will display resistance to change. The phenomenon is quite understandable and completely expected; it is hard to alter the traditional behaviour patterns, not to mention accepting an entirely new set of values and using it as the foundation for the decision-making process. However, there are several tools that can be incorporated into the process of managing the employees’ resistance toward changes made to the corporate design.
First and most obvious, a different leadership strategy needs to be modelled. As stressed above, it is imperative to guide the staff members toward change and provide them with an appropriate role model that they can follow and of which they can make examples. The transformative leadership framework can be viewed as the best tool for convincing the staff to accept the corporate values.
As far as the model of change is concerned, Thomas Pyzdek’s DMAIC should be viewed as a possible tool for managing change. Created to make the transgression from one framework of operations to another, the model is an impeccable addition to the essential corporate processes (Pyzdek & Keller 2014). By definition, the strategy implies that the following steps should be taken: Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control. The Define state requires that the primary targets and the key problems that will have to be addressed should be defined.
The Measure stage, in its turn, helps determine the degree to which the issue has progressed, while the Analyze tools will locate the gravity of the issue and the chances of success. The Improvement phase means applying the designed strategy to the corporate setting, and the Control process implies that the change should be sustained by using the appropriate supervision strategies, such a regular reports from the staff, audits, etc.
the company under analysis, a combination of reports and surveys, the latter helping monitor the engagement rates among the staff members, is preferable. The reason behind the use of a combined approach is that two essential variables (i.e., the EE rates and the company’s’ performance in the target market) need to be controlled (Evans 2016).
Ensuring Levels of Employee Engagement in Organisations: Programs for Remedial Changes
Measuring Employee Engagement Levels: Alternative Tools
Gallup Q12 Instrument. It should be borne in mind that there are a plethora of tools for assessing the EE rates. The Gallup Q12 Engagement Survey is one of them; according to the official description, the tool incorporates 12 questions that are used to determine the staff’s engagement rates and, therefore, locate the emergent issues so that they could be addressed properly:
Gallup researchers spent decades writing and testing hundreds of questions, because their wording and order mean everything when it comes to accurately measuring engagement. Their research yielded Gallup’s Q12 survey: the 12 questions that measure the most important elements of employee engagement. (Gallup Q12 employee engagement survey 2016, para. 3)
Indeed, the design of the tool seems quite appropriate for the test that is supposed to assess the EE rates. For example the fact that the authors of the device use the Likert scale top help the staff members locate the appropriate answers can be considered a step forward in assessing the EE levels. Since the Likert scale helps look at the EE issue from a quantitative perspective, it may be used as the means of comparing the effects of the strategies used to enhance EE in the context of an organisation. As a result, forecasts regarding the future EE changes can be made based on the tendencies that the current data shows.
It could be argued, though, that, being rooted in the staff’s emotions to a significant degree, EE can hardly be predicted accurately. However, as long as the company does not experience sudden shocks, the tendencies in the EE changes can be located with a significant amount of precision. Therefore, the accuracy of the forecasts made with the help of a qualitative analysis of the Gallup Q12 test results is bearable.
Scientific Integrity, Priorities, and Political Sensitivities. As stressed above, to maintain the EE rates high, one should consider creating the environment, in which the staff members will feel most comfortable. Consequently, it is important that the work-related processes should not imply facing any cultural or political controversies. Herein lies the need for promoting a combination of scientific integrity and political sensitivities in the organisation. The former can be facilitated by promoting corporate engagement mentioned above.
Meeting the political sensitivity issue will be possible once the principles of tolerance are accepted in the company’s design. For this purpose, the levels of diversity must be increased. In my organisation, the process of increasing diversity is going on, with new members adding to the cosmopolitan environment that the managers have created (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development 2002).
Enhancing Employee Engagement Levels: Examples and Their Analysis
At present, my organisation plans to increase the engagement rates by focusing closer on the financial incentives. Although the general course that the company is taking can be deemed as quite sensible, there are a few suggestions that can improve the current strategy and contribute to an even faster integration of the employees into the organisation, as well as a more efficient acceptable of its values and philosophy.
Specifically, the use of public appraisals combined with an improvement in the current benefit package must be interpreted as the most adequate steps to take. Although the present package includes the traditional elements that the U.S. employee are entitled to based on the American legislation, offering more chances to the members of the organisation might build the premises for a faster and a stronger psychological contract with the staff members.
As far as the public appraisal are concerned, emotional connection with the personnel is crucial to maintain consistent engagement rates (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development 2016c). By acknowledging the staff members’ efforts publicly, the firm will make a very powerful statement about valuing its personnel as human resources. Therefore, it must be viewed as an essential addition to the current corporate HR framework.
Evidence of Plans for My Organisation: Opportunities to Chase
Despite the problems that exist in my company’s design and that are evident to an unaided eye, there are signs of improvement and concern for the EE levels. For instance, the firm has been exploring the opportunities for managing the data in a more efficient manner. The corporation managers have been thinking of adopting the concept of information sharing in the firm’s design so that the company members could access the necessary data easily.
However, the recent plans are quite hard to implement because of the impediments that stand in their way, the lack of technological awareness among the personnel being the primary reason for concern. The employees need extensive training to acquire the skills related to cloud databases usage, as well as the management of online security. The latter concerns not only preventing cyberattacks but also remembering the basics of online security such as signing out of the corporate sites so that the login and password details could not be stolen, the ability to detect a spam letter, etc. Thus, information leakage can be prevented successfully.
Additionally, the concept of information sharing as a data management strategy should be promoted on every level of the firm’s operations. It is essential to create a free data flow in the context of the company so that the personnel could stop being so competitive and feel secure about their efforts being recognised. Moreover, as soon as the employees learn to use the data to link the information from different departments and create a unique model that will help satisfy the needs of the target audience, a rapid increase in the company’s performance rates is expected.
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