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The CIPD (2014) factsheet states that Employee Engagement is a concept that ‘is generally seen as an internal state of being – physical, mental and emotional – that brings together earlier concepts of work effort, organisational commitment, job satisfaction and ‘flow’ (or optimal experience)’. An engaged workforce willingly demonstrates discretionary effort within their roles; their goals and values reflect that of their employers/organisation; they express a passion for work, feel valued and that their work has meaning.
To what extent is there employee engagement in your organisation, or an organisation of your choice? Within my organisation, a specialist recruitment company, I perceive that engagement levels are generally high. As a high pressure, sales driven and ‘cut throat’ setting, without a formal HR department, there are many aspects to this work environment that could lead to disengagement.
However, careful strategies are continually implemented and regularly reviewed by the management team to develop the existing workforce and reduce staff turnover.
Great care is taken into ensuring that employees are selected at interview for personal attributes that thrive within a competitive, sales driven setting. Every employee receives a 1:1 session with their line manager each week; this provides an opportunity to ask for support, receive feedback on performance, discuss strategy and set own personal SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely) objectives that promote high levels of role autonomy. Furthermore, all employees, at all levels are included within the Managing Directors weekly update email, which reinforces business goals/objectives and promotes inclusion.
Analyse, with examples, the principal dimensions of employee engagement (the emotional, the cognitive and the physical). The three principle dimensions of engagement:
Physical: refers to those that are physically present within their job role and willing to ‘go the extra mile’ to achieve organisational goals and values. E.g. those who are physically engaged will stay at work until the job is done. Cognitive: refers to those that focus very hard on their work and posses a clear sense of direction to achieve targets and goals. E.g. those who are cognitively engaged may feel that time passes quickly whilst at work, because they are intellectually involved/stimulated with their work. Emotional: occurs when an employee’s emotional needs, goals, ethics and values are reflected positively within the organisation. These employees put their heart and soul into their job and become excited when they do well within their role.
Provide a table of comparisons and contrasts employee engagement with other related concepts: ‘flow’, organisational commitment, job involvement and job satisfaction.
Flow: ‘holistic sensation that people feel when they act with total involvement’ (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990). Engaged employees with experience flow It is possible to experience flow without emotional attachment to an organisation Job Satisfaction: ‘a pleasurable or positive emotional state resulting from the appraisal of one’s job or job experiences’ (Locke 1976). Engaged employees with have high job satisfaction
Discretionary effort is not always demonstrated by those who have job satisfaction. Organisational Commitment: The level of an employee’s emotional commitment to an organisation and their desire to continue to be a part of it Affective organisation commitment matches keys aspects of engagement definitions 3 types of commitment- not all are associated positively- some have negative impacts Job involvement: Kanougo (1984) defined job involvement as ‘a cognitive or belief state of psychological identification’ Those with high engagement will experience high involvement. Cognitive based state, engagement incorporates emotional and physical states.
Describe the typical HR, leadership and cultural elements likely to be found in an organisation characterised by high levels of employee engagement HR: Typical HR elements found in organisation with high levels of engagement focus on achieving: A positive psychological contract: this is the mutual expectation between an employers and employee, not required by the employment contract; it is given freely and based on trust. A negative psychological contract can lead to feelings of negativity and disengagement. If employee expectations are managed and their views and contributions actively encouraged and acted upon, engagement levels should improve. Job satisfaction: ensuring that employees are supported and feel confident in undertaking their duties; providing task variety and achievable targets to promote fulfilment Clarity of job role/performance expectations: jointly agreeing targets/objectives that are clear, fulfilling and stretching will motivate employees.
Successful performance management processes measure performance against targets, provide regular feedback and positive reinforcement and work collaboratively with employees to evaluate performance, development needs and future aims and objectives. Implementing flexible working practices pay and reward schemes and career development initiatives can also be observed. In organisations with high levels of engagement, line managers play a key role in enhancing job engagement, with the support of organisational initiatives. Typical leadership qualities promote: Clarity of vision: engaged employees have a full appreciation of the long term aims of the organisation with an understanding of how they can actively contribute in achieving the organisations long terms aims and objectives. Employee contribution: employees who experience positive motions at work are more productive; leaders who recognise this benefit and actively promote employee involvement will gain positive results.
The alignment of aims and objectives: a framework is provided where employees can align their own aims objectives and career development plans in line with organisations. Taking this a step further to promote autonomy can drive innovation. Organisations with high levels of engagement tend to promote a culture where team working, autonomy and an open feedback is prevalent. Employees also work with flexibility and are willing to help and support one another. Identify and provide details on an organisation that demonstrates the above characteristics. A CIPD podcast recently highlighted Beaverbrooks, a privately owned family Jewellery firm, as an advocate for nurturing a culture of engagement. In the past 6 year, the company has ranked within the top four in its category in the ‘Sunday Times Best Companies to Work for List’. Engagement levels are consistently high, even among staff who ear as little as 15,000 a year.
Mark Addleston, the current CEO, visits visits every store each year, telephones staff who have been promoted offering congratulations and provides long service awards. This reinforces vision and provides opportunities for employee contribution. The’ Sunday Times Best Companies’ to work for list reported that 87% of employees feel the company is run on strong principles, 83% feel that their boss is inspirational and 86% have great faith in the leadership . Teamwork is prevalent with 83% staff stating that they have fun with colleagues and 72% feel that everyone is treated fairly. There is also a strong ethos of charity giving, which promotes a meaningful work culture; a driver to engagement. Evaluate the need for alignment between ‘engagement’ practices and other corporate components if the full benefits of high engagement are to be realised.
Employee engagement is a vital function of HR practises because when aligned with organisational aims and objectives, it can impact positively on productivity and other key business benefits. The importance of aligning the business and HR strategies is paramount; not only will the business strategy influence the HR strategy, but the engaged behaviours of employees will in turn influence the business strategy. To become a driver for organisation success HR strategy should integrated both horitzonaly and vertically across the organisation. Vertical initiatives include the alignment of HR strategy and Business Strategy. Horizontal integration includes the various HR strategies that contribute to overall business strategy e.g. resourcing, learning & development; employee relations & engagement; performance and reward strategies.
Explain why employee engagement is an increasingly vital dimension of HR policies, strategies and practices There is extensive research available that supports the notion that increase engagement within an organisation directly influences its successes within a variety of areas.. The 2010 CIPD reported the engaged employees perform better, possess a great sense of well being, drive innovation and are less likely to leave their organisations. The report also warned that engagement initiative require monitoring, as excessive levels of engagement may lead to ill health and burnout For this reason alone, it should take precedence within HR departments. Evaluate the business benefits likely to accrue from a culture of employee engagement; benefits for the organisation, its executives & managers, its workforce and its customers For the organisation: Stairs and Galphin, 2010 found that high engagement levels relate to a number of key performance indicators including higher profitability, earnings per share and shareholder returns, lower absenteeism and higher employee retention, increased employee effort and productivity, enhanced customer satisfaction and loyalty, faster business growth and higher likelihood of business success.
For its executives/management: Benefits are twofold, increased employee commitment (Stairs and Galphin, 2010) and the increased application of discretionary effort (Macleod and Clarke 2011).. For the workforce: Access to increased opportunities for development (Truss et al 2013), which promotes meaningful work (May et al 2004., Macey et al 2009). Have greater satisfaction levels in their life and better mental and physical health (Schaufeli and Salanova 2007). For the customers: higher engagement levels lead to increased customer satisfaction (Harter et al 2010), resulting in repeated business and organisational productivity. Explain the application of employee engagement through job design, discretionary behaviour, role autonomy and organisational citizenship Truss et al (2013) concluded that job design is central in harnessing the 3 principle dimensions of engagement.
They proposed four vital elements to be reviewed when determining how to design engaging jobs; job context, job content, work relationships and the line management Job Content: should enable individuals to find their work meaningful, with direction, context and responsibility (autonomy). It should utilise their current skills and develop new ones; they should receive regular and constructive feedback. Job Context: should include factors such as ergonomic job design, work setting, technology, and flexible working options. Work Relationships: people are more likely to be engaged when they are in open, trusting and harmonious work settings. Job design needs to consider the way the job holder is intended to interact with those around them. Line Management: is essential in bringing the elements of job design together, by providing support and feedback.
Research shows that by increasing the level of autonomy individuals have within their role leads to engaged behaviours and attitudes (Bond 2010). Those who are provided with an opportunity to influence their job roles and make key decisions, without being dictated upon by their line managers will have high levels of role autonomy. Line managers play a key role in promoting role autonomy, through the shaping of job content, treatment of the role holder and levels of trust (Clegg and Spencer, 2007), therefore line managers must be selected carefully.
Those with high levels of autonomy are more likely to exhibit positive discretionary behaviours, such as organisational citizenship behaviour (OCB), in line with the organisations aims and objectives (Krishnan 2013). Evidence states that OCB can be construed as a positive behaviour that is neither stated in job description nor enforced by employment contract (Krishnan 2013). This suggests that OCB can be applied by upholding the ‘psychological contract’; the mutual expectation between an employer and employee, not required by the employment contract; it is given freely and based on trust (CIPD factsheet 2014).
Identify two key reports. And analyse the findings concerning the incidence of employee engagement. Report 1: Gallup 2013 The State of the Global Workplace: Employee Engagement Insights and Advice for Global Business Leaders Outlined the incidence of engagement globally and provided strategies for business leaders wishing to increase engagement within their own organisations Profiled 3 types of engagement: engaged, not engaged and actively disengaged- the most dangerous type of employees, who seek to actively undermine the achievements of engaged employees. Data gathered using Gallups Q12 survey, during 2011-2012, from 230,000 employees across 142 countries found that 13% are engaged, 63% are ‘sleepwalking’ or not engaged and 27% are actively disengaged- outnumbering engaged employees 2-1 Key findings include:
Units in the top 25% of Gallup’s Q12 Client Database have significantly higher productivity, profitability, and customer ratings, less turnover and absenteeism, and fewer safety incidents than those in the bottom 25%. Active disengagement in the workplace drains productivity and profitability. Gallup estimated that it costs Germany €112-138 billion per year and the U.K. between £52-70 billion per year. The region with the lowest proportion of engaged employees is East Asia at 6%. Results are driven predominantly by China, where 6% of employees are engaged in their jobs. The region of highest proportion of engaged employees is Australia/New Zealand, at 24%.
Gallup recommended that organisations consider following strategies alongside engagement initiatives: Hire the right employees- to enhance overall engagement Develop their strengths- employee s who received strengths-based coaching saw their engagement scores improve substantially. Enhance their well-being- the best managers find ways to improve employees’ lives by focusing on employee well-being, whilst helping them to be more productive. Report 2:MacLeod, D., and Clarke, N. (2011), ‘Engaging for success: enhancing performance through employee engagement, a report to Government’ A report commissioned by the U.K government to investigate the effect of employee engagement on companies, organisations and individual employees as a way to help alleviate the effects of the economic recession.
Designed to encourage more companies and organisations to adopt engagement approaches, it demystified what engagement means and can do for organisations/individuals Uncovered the ‘four enablers to engagement’; Leadership, Voice, Engaging Managers and Integrity. Recommended the following next steps to increase the understanding of engagement: Raising awareness: A need to expose organisations in the UK to the benefits and processes of engagement. Aligning Resources: A need for government funded organisations to align their resources and support for those seeking to address the awareness issue. Increasing support: Government funded organisations and agencies need to provide support and direction to organisations across the different sectors, seeking to address the issue of engagement.
Assess differences in levels of employee engagement based on gender, demographic and other factors. Differences in countries have been reported (Gallup 2013, Blessing White 2011): China reported to harbour amongst the lowest levels of engagement, surprising considering they are on track to become a global economic leader Could be attributed to the ‘command and control’ management style that many of Chinas organisations possess. To improve engagement, managers need to be hired for their ability engage and develop employees.
(2006), Accenture Infographic 2013): Women are reported to be more engaged that men, that 80% of women say having a flexible work schedule is extremely/very important, perhaps to accommodate childcare. Flexibility around work schedules is a know driver to engagement- women may actively seek out roles that allow this flexibility. Organisations that offer flexibility around working hours will attract women who may have to consider childcare. In turn, this may propel higher-level functioning at work. Women’s job performance outcomes, such as commitment, satisfaction and engagement, would thus register higher than those of men.
Based on your organisation or one of your choice
Identify the principle drivers for employee engagement.
In my organisation, an education recruitment company with high levels of staff turnover, enhanced commitment, motivation and discretionary effort needs to be encouraged to conduct cold calls, win new clients, retain current clients, maximise business, achieve individual targets and increase loyalty to the company. This will ensure that key clients are managed effectively and with continuity; increasing satisfaction and loyalty, and reduced the business risks associated with high levels of staff turnover.
Furthermore, increased autonomy and empowerment will allow the workforce to develop individual approaches to developing business, driving innovation and the development of new skills, knowledge and behaviours to meet organisation aims and objectives. These drivers need to be implemented with careful consideration of the employee’s potential to ‘burnout’ and work/life balance, which is currently compromised, due to long working hours and challenging targets. Hiring the right employees is essential to achieve this.
Apply suitable diagnostic tools for measuring employee attitudes, for example the Gallup Q12 instrument. Within my organisation KPIs are central in providing a benchmark for minimum levels of performance. Every department and individual within the organisation works to achieve KPIs. These are generated from the organisational aims, objectives and strategy. Within my position, as a Consultant, I work to KPIs which are developed to help me achieve individual margin targets e.g. to register 5 candidates a week. If an individual/department is struggling to meet KPIs, an investigation is implemented to uncover and resolve underlying issues that may be impeding performance.
Propose relevant people resourcing, development, performance and communication strategies to raise levels of employee engagement. Meaningful roles and engaging line management are vital when implementing engagement strategies. Successful strategies to raise engagement incorporate the following strategies: Development: Providing a clear line of site between the employee’s role, their professional development and the organizations aims and objectives. Providing opportunities to acquire new skills and develop current ones.
Communication: Continuous, two way communication between the employer and an employee; provides employee with an opportunity to give feedback. Resourcing: Linked to development- providing employees with opportunities to undertake new tasks/duties e.g.: secondments, job sculpting etc. Exposure to opportunities fuels a feeling of empowerment and autonomy, enhancing commitment. Performance: Clarity with how an employee’s performance affects an organisations aims and objectives. Motivation to succeed in this way can be encouraged by providing support, using 360 degree appraisal and providing opportunities to identify development needs.
Identify barriers to acceptance of employee engagement strategies and the ways in which barriers may be overcome or minimised. Barriers to engagement strategies (CIPD 2010) within my organisation include: inconsistent management style leading to perceptions of unfairness poor work–life balance due to a long-hours culture low perceptions of senior management visibility and quality of downward communication disjointed recruitment and retention practices lack of leadership development to ensure clear succession planning
HR plays an active role as a change agent. Strategies to overcome/minimise these barriers include: Implementing, developing and evaluating flexible and sensitive HR practices tailored to changing organisational and environmental factors Identifying skills and knowledge required for change management project teams Identifying and continually communicating with all key stakeholders involved in the change Promote the benefits/reasoning for implementing change
Encouraging two-way communication/involvement methods to promote engagement/involvement in the change Embed a culture of flexibility and adaptability to change through the implementation of a competency framework Evaluating skills/knowledge/engagement levels across all levels of the organisation Using project management techniques to review and monitor change progress and implementation:
Construct an ‘employee value proposition’ that will promote high levels of workforce engagement. The employee Value Proposition is an initiative that focuses on the rewards and incentives offered by management in return for the increased effort and performance levels that employees can provide. It incorporates the employment contractual term and conditions as well as the psychological contract. EVP components that would increase engagement within my organisation would include: Providing development opportunities to aid performance.
Monetary bonus schemes to reflect employee discretionary effort The promotion of health and well bring- e.g. corporate gym membership Informing staff of current and future organisation development- open communication. Measuring and (importantly) providing recognition and feedback on employee views/suggestions.
Identify and assess the relevance of the ‘product life cycle’ to the notion of employee engagement. Engagement strategies can be monitored using the ‘product life cycle’ model, which would consist of four stages: Introducing the concept of engagement, strategies for implementation and processes for change across all aspects of the organisation to fully embed the concept. Growing the concept of engagement via a variety of mechanisms, including support from the leadership, creating clear pathways for communication/involvement and relevant training/development of stakeholders. Continuous ‘embedding’ and tailoring of engagement approaches as they reach ‘maturity’ within the organisation to take into account relevant causal factors. Decline- ensuring that you are retaining and involving key employees in future initiatives.
Evaluate the future for employee engagement in the UK and global economic context. Surveys into the incidence of engagement within the UK and abroad highlight the following drivers to be considered to promote an engaged workforce: The importance of the line manager and their ability to motivate and inspire staff. The importance of providing opportunities for development/involving workers. The importance of recognising demographic influences, to tailor engagement initiatives.
The need to conduct further research into the link between engagement and performance. It is also worth considering the notion of ‘generation me- which is prevalent within the younger workforce; engagement strategies will hold more significance as a new generation of individuals, who are demanding higher levels of work-life balance, self-development, flexibility in working practices, role autonomy and demonstrate less loyalty to organisations become more prevalent.
Assess the future role of the HR professional and the HR function so far as the sustainable implementation of employee engagement practices is concerned. In order to implement strategies/initiative effectively, HR departments must integrate strategy horizontally and vertically. Furthermore th CIPD’s HR professional Map can be used to provide a structured framework in terms of developing knowledge and behaviours for the HR Professional role of the HR professional and the HR function in promoting and furthering employee engagement.
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