Summative Assessment Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 7 January 2017

Summative Assessment

1.1/1.2/1.3 – Requires me to describe what is employee engagement and how does it differ, if at all, from related concepts like employee involvement, employee participation and employee consultation? Also how far is employee engagement something which is genuinely new and distinctive, or is it merely a repackaging of old and well-established ideas?

Chiumento (2004) defined employee engagement as a positive, two-way, relationship between an employee and their organisation. Both parties are aware of their own and the other’s needs, and the way they support each other to fulfil those needs. Engaged employees and organisations will go the extra mile for each other because they see the mutual benefit of investing in their relationship.

One of the first challenges presented by the literature is the lack of a universal definition of employee engagement. Kahn (1990) defines employee engagement as “the harnessing of organisation members’ selves to their work roles; in engagement, people employ and express themselves physically, cognitively, and emotionally during role performances”. The cognitive aspect of employee engagement concerns employees’ beliefs about the organisation, its leaders and working conditions. The emotional aspect concerns how employees feel about each of those three factors and whether they have positive or negative attitudes toward the organisation and its leaders. The physical aspect of employee engagement concerns the physical energies exerted by individuals to accomplish their roles. Thus, according to Kahn (1990), engagement means to be psychologically as well as physically present when occupying and performing an organisational role.

Most often employee engagement has been defined as emotional and intellectual commitment to the organisation (Baumruk 2004, Richman 2006 and Shaw 2005) or the amount of discretionary effort exhibited by employees in their job (Frank et al 2004). Although it is acknowledged and accepted that employee engagement is a multi-faceted construct, as previously suggested by Kahn (1990), Truss et al (2006) define employee engagement simply as ‘passion for work’, a psychological state which is seen to encompass the three dimensions of engagement discussed by Kahn (1990), and captures the common theme running through all these definitions.

The existence of different definitions makes the state of knowledge of employee engagement difficult to determine as each study examines employee engagement under a different protocol. In addition, unless employee engagement can be universally defined and measured, it cannot be managed, nor can it be known if efforts to improve it are working (Ferguson 2007). This highlights the problems of comparability caused by differences in definition. Furthermore, whilst it is acknowledged that employee engagement has been defined in many different ways, it is also argued the definitions often sound similar to other better known and established constructs such as ‘organisational commitment’ and ‘organisational citizenship behaviour’ (Robinson et al 2004).

Thus Robinson et al (2004) report 408, IES defines engagement as: ‘A positive attitude held by the employee towards the organisation and its values. An engaged employee is aware of business context, and works with colleagues to improve performance within the job for the benefit of the organisation. The organisation must work to develop and nurture engagement, which requires a two-way relationship between employer and employee.’ As a result, employee engagement has the appearance of being yet another trend, or what some might call “old wine in a new bottle”.

An engaged employee is one who is fully involved in, and enthusiastic about their work, and thus will act in a way that furthers their organisation’s interests. Employee Engagement is a measurable degree of an employee’s positive or negative emotional attachment to their job, colleagues and organisation which profoundly influences their willingness to learn and perform at work. Thus engagement is distinctively different from employee satisfaction, motivation and organisational culture. Employers require an investment from their employees and in return employees need a similar investment from their company.

• The physical things are at the conscious level. They tend to be noticed by management ie an employee’s willingness to ‘go the extra mile. • The emotional things such as caring, commitment and concern occur often at the unconscious level and as a result are not always as visible. • Cognitive engagement means that employees are sure about their job requirements and role expectations. When managers say ‘I want my staff to be caring, pleasant, happy and enthusiastic’, you would ask, ‘what are you giving them so they will do all of this?’ The reply is usually, ‘They get paid.’ If you want your staff to do all the above then they need a return in the appropriate dimension – the emotional one. This means creating an atmosphere where the staff passes on to your customers what they get from you.

For example:

• If you want employees to display initiative and come up with new ideas (Intellectual) you must give them responsibility and provide interesting work and opportunities for promotion.

• If you want your employees to adhere to the safety and health regulations at work you must provide them with good equipment and safe working conditions.

• If you want them to show respect and empathy for other staff members and customers you in turn must show them respect and have empathy for them.

Organisational commitment is the relative strength of an individual’s identification with and involvement in a particular organisation, Armstrong (2006). It consists of three factors:

• A strong desire to remain a member of the organisation.

• A strong belief in and acceptance of the values and goals of the organisation.

• A readiness to exert considerable effort on behalf of the organisation.

Work engagement is positively related with, but can nevertheless be differentiated from, similar constructs such as job involvement and organizational commitment, in-role and extra-role behaviour; personal initiative, and workaholics. Moreover, engaged workers are characterised by low levels of burnout, as well as by low levels of neuroticism and high levels of extraversion. Also they enjoy good mental and physical health. Most recently, Christian et al (2011) meta-analyzed over 90 engagement research studies. They found that engagement is distinct from job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and job involvement.

If we are to understand how engagement might be managed in organisations, it is essential that we look at how it operates at the level of individuals and groups. A number of commentators in the academic literature have equated engagement with well-established psychological concepts. For example, it has been linked to the notion of ‘flow’ where the worker becomes totally immersed in an activity (Csikszentmihalyi 1990).

The military is a great example of employee engagement as they work together going forward to be operationally focused.

Learning outcome 3

3.1/3.2/3.3 Requires me to find out why is employment engagement a ‘hot topic’ for many organisations? And what are the benefits to be gained from creating a culture of employee engagement and an ‘engaged’ workforce?

Over the past decade, and particularly in the past three years, employers and employees have faced human capital challenges and an uncertain economy. The economic downturn that started in 2008 has had a significant impact on companies and the resulting decisions made by management. These decisions have impacted employee engagement levels and perceptions globally, leading to changes in leading drivers of employee engagement. In uncertain times, organisations need to focus on harnessing the discretionary effort that engaged employees deliver. This makes the difference in how companies are affected during the economic downturn, how quickly they emerge from it, and how strong they are in the future after the downturn passes.

Employee engagement/communication is one way to ensure the balance of the psychological contract is maintained throughout change. During an early CIPD Podcast (03 Apr 2007), the CIPD Adviser of Employee Relations, Mike Emmott describes employee attitudes throughout the public sector as ‘bottom of the heap’ He goes on to say ‘I think there is an endemic problem in getting an engaged workforce in the public sector and until they’ve cracked it, efforts at public sector reform are going to be hamstrung’. In an article by Ritu Mohanka (2011) in the British business publication, ‘Management Today’ he highlighted the rapid emergence of Employee Engagement as a hot topic in company boardrooms and sought to educate its readership on the basics of Employee Engagement. However, though the author was impressed by the power of Employee Engagement as a lever for tapping into an organisation’s potential, he was still sceptical.

They were right to highlight employee engagement as a hot topic. Human Capital Management (HCM) research clearly demonstrates that if your employees aren’t engaged, then they’re unlikely to be doing a particularly good job, and so probably won’t be keeping your customers all that happy and therefore might be laying the seeds for your own downfall in the future. Because you can be sure that somewhere, someone else covets those very same customers and will be doing their utmost to poach them from you. Or to put it another way, if your horses are sleeping, who’s pulling your carriage? Finding out just how awake, how hard and in which direction those horses are pulling is the centrepiece and focus of all good Employee Engagement. The challenge, of course, is educating both management and employees, whilst fitting a sound conceptual model to the individual context, values and environment of each and every company.

To continue the analogy, it’s finding the right ‘horses for courses’. And then making sure that the management has the right information and benchmarks to understand; how fast they’re going, if they’ve actually employed thoroughbreds or work-horses, and whether their ‘horses’ are all pulling in the same direction. In an ideal world, all of a company’s employees are sufficiently gifted and striving towards a unified goal, while advocating their company’s values and championing their services to the external world. Common sense, and the real world, tells us that this isn’t always the case. This makes it paramount for company leaders to know the reality of the situation and seek sufficient information to develop an action plan, putting both appropriate remedies in place and providing a route to increased employee buy-in, commitment and Engagement, and hence future performance improvements.

So, how can they get the horse before the cart? Well, one way would be to start finding out, through their own customised Employee Engagement survey. If properly devised and carried out this will provide an up-to-date and in-depth understanding of their employees: Motivation, Commitment, Belief in the company’s leaders and managers and Understanding of company (Values, Goals (vision, mission, strategic priorities etc.), Actions, and their part as a cog in the greater machine, probability of staying with the employer)). In a study by CIPD (2011) it was stated that the key to employee engagement is to create a meaningful job with variety and autonomy. It was also suggested that a positive relationship with managers and feeling able to voice any concerns were also key to maintaining a motivated workforce.

Learning outcome 4

4.1/4.2 Requires me to find out what is the empirical evidence to support the claim that these benefits can be realised in practice?

An article on engagement in People Management, Mark Butler (2008), Director of the People Organisation and an associate of Edinburgh HR Academy suggest that ‘valuing the views of the people is beyond dispute’. This was further reinforced in People Management, Tim Smedley (2008) when he interviewed Tony McCarthy, Director, People and Organisational Effectiveness, British Airways. Tony McCarthy described it very succinctly, ‘we need to listen to people more than we do’.

Also in April 2008, the success of Birmingham City Council’s ‘Best’ initiative – a values-based change programme intended to improve performance and empower employees, demonstrated how learning from past performance and involving staff in the design of a programme rather than imposing it had a dramatic positive effect on the mood of the workforce.

The Military Covenant (2000), which forms part of the Army’s Doctrine, underpins the ethos of the military’s psychological contract with its serving soldiers. An extract of the Army Doctrine Publication Military Covenant (2000) relevant to this report is as follows ‘soldiers will be called upon to make personal sacrifices, including the ultimate sacrifice – in the service of the nation. In return, British soldiers must always be able to expect fair treatment, to be valued and respected as individuals, and that they (and their families) will be sustained and rewarded by commensurate terms and conditions of service.

In a case study by PlasticCo (2007) they described their leaderships as ‘from the top–down’ with an autocratic approach to problem-solving. However, changes in their senior management led to a new strategic direction for the company. A new managing director was appointed, bringing a more participative vision. With full board support, a business case was made for a three-year transition towards an involvement-oriented culture. At the heart of this approach were people development, teamwork, communication and a more open leadership style.

The new management team made it clear that the company was profitable and performing well and that the change was part of a new strategy of continuous improvement towards greater performance. PlasticCo joined the Kingston Business School Employee Engagement Consortium to help assess the levels of engagement in their company and identify potential avenues for improvement. Truss et al (2006) conducted a survey of working life in the UK, of which engagement was a core consideration. Using a cross-section of UK workers from various industries, they concluded that only 35% of people are engaged overall. These studies suggest there is much scope for increasing engagement in UK companies and public bodies.

GovDep is a large government department, which in 2007 underwent considerable changes as a result of a merger between two previously separate agencies. This led to a new management structure and ‘head office’ rationalisation and provided an opportunity for headcount efficiencies. The department and agencies have been involved in working towards increased employee engagement for some time, although this has only been branded as ‘employee engagement’ latterly. This interest stems from a drive to renew employment practices and processes as part of a wider agenda of government modernisation.

The department and agencies conducts annual staff survey’s, which feeds into improvement activities, which has increased the focus on employee involvement initiatives. The majority of the agency’s employees work in an office/contact centre environment. There is an emphasis on employee development, coaching and teamwork. There is also careful attention to diversity and equal opportunities. Sickness absence rates were high, compared with the private sector organisations, and with a new performance standard for sickness in place the aim is to reduce sickness absence to below 8.3 average working days per year. This work is beginning to provide the reduction required. To assist in the development of their employee engagement they have joined the Kingston Business School Employee Engagement Consortium.

Learning outcome 6

6.1/6.2/6.3 Requires me to find out what is the future of employee engagement so far as tomorrow’s organisations are concerned?

There are many theories about how to do change. Many originate with leadership and change management guru, John Kotter (1995) who created eight steps that are required to transform an organisation:

1. Establishing a sense of urgency.
• Examine market and competitive realities.
• Identify and discuss crisis, potential crisis, or major opportunities.
• Provide evidence from outside the organization that change is necessary.

2. Forming a powerful guiding coalition.

• Assemble a group with enough power to lead the change effort.
• Attract key change leaders by showing enthusiasm and commitment.
• Encourage the group to work together as a team.

3. Creating a vision.

• Create a vision to help direct the change effort.
• Develop strategies for achieving that vision.

4. Communicating the vision.

• Build alignment and engagement through stories.
• Use every vehicle possible to communicate the new vision and strategies.
• Keep communication simple and heartfelt.
• Teach new behaviours by the example of the guiding coalition.

5. Empowering others to act on the vision.

• Remove obstacles to the change.
• Change systems and / or structures that work against the vision.

6. Planning for and creating short-term wins.
• Plan for and achieve visible performance improvements.
• Recognize and reward those involved in bringing the improvements to life.

7. Consolidating improvements and producing still more change.
• Plan for and create visible performance improvements.
• Recognise and reward personnel involved in the improvements.
• Reinforce the behaviours shown that led to the improvements. 8. Institutionalising new approaches.

• Articulate the connections between the new behaviours and corporate success.
• Developing the means to ensure leadership development and succession.

Within the military they have various ways to get feedback and then action employee’s requests if deemed necessary and if budgets allow. Two of these are the Armed Forces Pay Review Body (AFPRB) and the Armed Forces Continuous Attitude Survey (AFCAS). These surveys are conducted annually, meaning that changes for future employees are a role on thing. Changes will happen, but only through consultation with its employee’s.

Due to the volume of this document the full report for the AFPRB can be found at: http://www.baff.org.uk/201103191103/armed-forces-pay-review-body-afprb-report
-2011.html

Also the same goes for the AFCAS, which can be found at: http://www.baff.org.uk/armed-forces-continuous-attitude-survey-2011.html

My personal feelings are that employee engagement will become even more critical as the economy and job market begins to steadily rebound from the trenches we have seen over the last couple of years. With this being said, you will begin to see those key players within organisations, being targeted by competitors. And, with companies still reluctant to offer incentive based increases and tightly controlling their cash flow; there will need to be some form of non-tangible incentives available to these aforementioned key individuals. This is where employee engagement comes into play. Companies will need to identify areas that are important to the retention and development of their employee base and really focus their energy in those areas. Such as identifying key moments in an employee’s life or career and leveraging those to inspire others through communication.

HR has a key role to play in implementing engagement initiatives. This will generally include designing and carrying out employee surveys, testing the findings through focus groups and advising senior managers on their significance. HR personnel will also have the job of helping line managers to raise their game. They may also need to liaise with marketing to develop the ‘employer brand’ or incorporate the findings of employee surveys within performance management processes.

References

Armstrong, M. (2006) A Handbook of Human Resource Management Practice 10ed. London: Kogan.

Baumruk, R. (2004) ‘The missing link: the role of employee engagement in business success’,Workspan, Vol 47, pp48-52.

BCC. (2008) The Change Agent Project, ‘Best Initiative’. Birmingham: BCC.
Available at: http://www.birminghambest.co.uk/changeagents [accessed 09 Mar 2012).

Butler, M. (2008) Why engagement is set to revolutionise public services. London: CIPD. Available at: http://www.peoplemanagement.co.uk/pm/articles/2008/09/why-engagement-is-set-to-revolutionise-public-services.htm [accessed 09 Mar 2012).

Chiumento. (2004) Get Engaged, Chiumento, London.

Christian, M. S., Garza, A. S., & Slaughter, J. E. (2011). Work engagement: A quantitative review and test of its relations with task and contextual performance. Personnel Psychology, 64, 89-136.

CIPD (2007) Employee Engagement: Podcast episode 6. London: CIPD. Available at: http://www.cipd.co.uk/podcasts/_articles/article6.htm [Accessed 08 Mar 2012].

CIPD (2008) Employee Engagement in Context: Research Insight. London: CIPD. Available at: http://www.cipd.co.uk/NR/rdonlyres/6D7D52C8-6E51-4539-A189-1E2D6EBEF01F/0/employee_engagement_context.pdf [Accessed 09 Mar 2012].

CSIKZENTMIHALYI, M. (2008) Flow: the psychology of optimal experience. New York: Harper Perennial Modern Classics.

Ferguson, A. (2007) ‘Employee engagement: Does it exist, and if so, how does it relate to performance, other constructs and individual differences?’ Available at: http://www.lifethatworks.com/Employee-Engagement.prn.pdf [Accessed 07 Mar 2012].

Frank, F.D., Finnegan, R.P. and Taylor, C.R. (2004) ‘The race for talent: retaining and engaging workers in the 21st century’, Human Resource Planning, Vol 27, No 3, pp12-25.

Kahn, W.A. (1990) ‘Psychological conditions of personal engagement and disengagement at work’, Academy of Management Journal, Vol 33, pp692-724.

Kotter, J. (2011) The Heart of Change. Available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NKti9MyAAw [Accessed 10 Mar 2012].

Mohanka, R. (2011) Employee Engagement is a Hot Topic. London: Europe Office. Available at: http://events.kenexa.com/newsletter/oldver/05041.asp?uid=1&tbl=test [Accessed 09 Mar 2012].

Richman, A. (2006) ‘Everyone wants an engaged workforce how can you create it?’ Workspan, Vol 49, pp36-39.

Robinson, D., Perryman, S. and Hayday S. (2004) The drivers of employee engagement. Brighton: Institute for Employment Studies. Available at: http://www.wellbeing4business.co.uk/docs/Article%20-%20Engagement%20research.pdf [Accessed 07 Mar 2012].

Shaw, K. (2005) ‘An engagement strategy process for communicators’, Strategic Communication Management, Vol 9, No 3, pp26-29.

Sims, R R (1994) Human Resource Management’s Role in Clarifying the New Psychological Contract, Human Resource Management, 33 (3), pp, 373–82.

Smedley, T (2008) We need to listen to people more than we do. London: CIPD. Available at: http://www.peoplemanagement.co.uk/pm/articles/2008/09/we-need-to-listen-to-people-more-than-we-do.htm [accessed 09 Mar 2012).

Spindler, G S (1994) Psychological contracts in the workplace: a lawyer’s view, Human Resource Management, 33 (3), pp 325–33.

Truss, C., Soane, E., Edwards, C., Wisdom, K., Croll, A. and Burnett, J. (2006) Working Life: Employee Attitudes and Engagement 2006. London, CIPD.

Bibliography

Arkin, A. (2011) ‘Is Engagement Working’, People Management, November 2011, pp.22-27.

Armstrong, M. (2006) A Handbook of Human Resource Management Practice 10ed. London: Kogan.

Baumruk, R. (2004) ‘The missing link: the role of employee engagement in business success’,Workspan, Vol 47, pp. 48-52.

BCC. (2008) The Change Agent Project, ‘Best Initiative’. Birmingham: BCC. Available at: http://www.birminghambest.co.uk/changeagents [accessed 09 Mar 2012).

Brearley, M. (2009) ‘Fully Charged’, People Management, June 2009, pp.20-23.

Butler, M. (2008) Why engagement is set to revolutionise public services. London: CIPD. Available at: http://www.peoplemanagement.co.uk/pm/articles/2008/09/why-engagement-is-set-to-revolutionise-public-services.htm [accessed 09 Mar 2012).

Chiumento. (2004) Get Engaged, Chiumento, London.

Christian, M. S., Garza, A. S., & Slaughter, J. E. (2011). Work engagement: A quantitative review and test of its relations with task and contextual performance. Personnel Psychology, 64, 89-136.

CIPD (2007) Employee Engagement: Podcast episode 6. London: CIPD. Available at: http://www.cipd.co.uk/podcasts/_articles/article6.htm [Accessed 08 Mar 2012].

CIPD (2008) Employee Engagement in Context: Research Insight. London: CIPD. Available at:
http://www.cipd.co.uk/NR/rdonlyres/6D7D52C8-6E51-4539-A189-1E2D6EBEF01F/0/employee_engagement_context.pdf [Accessed 09 Mar 2012].

CIPD (2011) Employee Engagement: Factsheets. London: CIPD. Available at: http://www.cipd.co.uk/hr-resources/factsheets/employee-engagement.aspx [Accessed 07 Mar 2012].

CSIKZENTMIHALYI, M. (2008) Flow: the psychology of optimal experience. New York: Harper Perennial Modern Classics.

Ferguson, A. (2007) ‘Employee engagement: Does it exist, and if so, how does it relate to performance, other constructs and individual differences?’ Available at: http://www.lifethatworks.com/Employee-Engagement.prn.pdf [Accessed 07 Mar 2012].

Frank, F.D., Finnegan, R.P. and Taylor, C.R. (2004) ‘The race for talent: retaining and engaging workers in the 21st century’, Human Resource Planning, Vol 27, No 3, pp. 12-25.

Kahn, W.A. (1990) ‘Psychological conditions of personal engagement and disengagement at work’, Academy of Management Journal, Vol 33, pp. 692-724.

Kotter, J. (2011) The Heart of Change. Available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NKti9MyAAw [Accessed 10 Mar 2012].

Mohanka, R. (2011) Employee Engagement is a Hot Topic. London: Europe Office. Available at: http://events.kenexa.com/newsletter/oldver/05041.asp?uid=1&tbl=test [Accessed 09 Mar 2012].

Pickard, J (2009) ‘A Healthy Constitution’, People Management, January 2009, pp.20-23.

Richman, A. (2006) ‘Everyone wants an engaged workforce how can you create it?’ Workspan, Vol 49, pp36-39.

Robinson, D., Perryman, S. and Hayday S. (2004) The drivers of employee engagement. Brighton: Institute for Employment Studies. Available at: http://www.wellbeing4business.co.uk/docs/Article%20-%20Engagement%20research.pdf [Accessed 07 Mar 2012].

Shaw, K. (2005) ‘An engagement strategy process for communicators’, Strategic Communication Management, Vol 9, No 3, pp26-29.

Sims, R R (1994) Human Resource Management’s Role in Clarifying the New Psychological Contract, Human Resource Management, 33 (3), pp, 373–82.

Smedley, T (2008) We need to listen to people more than we do. London: CIPD. Available at: http://www.peoplemanagement.co.uk/pm/articles/2008/09/we-need-to-listen-to-people-more-than-we-do.htm [accessed 09 Mar 2012).

Spindler, G S (1994) Psychological contracts in the workplace: a lawyer’s view, Human Resource Management, 33 (3), pp 325–33.

Truss, C., Soane, E., Edwards, C., Wisdom, K., Croll, A. and Burnett, J. (2006) Working Life: Employee Attitudes and Engagement 2006. London, CIPD.

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