Employee Engagement and Commitment
Employees that are enthusiastic about their jobs and dedicated to their employers provide significant competitive advantages, such as increased productivity and fewer employee turnover. As a result, it’s no surprise that businesses of all sizes and types have made significant investments in policies and procedures that encourage employee engagement and dedication. Indeed, business expert and former General Electric CEO Jack Welch recently ranked employee engagement first among the three best indicators of a company’s health, with customer satisfaction and free cash flow ranking in second and third, respectively.
Caterpillar is reaping the benefits of its efforts.
Caterpillar, a manufacturer of construction equipment, has had significant outcomes from its employee engagement and commitment efforts, including:
• Reduced attrition, absenteeism, and overtime saved $8.8 million per year (European plant)
• In less than four months, output increased by 70%. (Asia Pacific plant)
• a drop in the break-even threshold in units/day of nearly 50%, and a drop in grievances of 80% (unionized plant)
• a profit increase of $2 million and a 34% increase in highly satisfied customers (start-up plant)
But, exactly, what are employee engagement and commitment? This workshop looks at how today’s employers and corporate consultants define these concepts, as well as suggestions for improving employee engagement. Despite the fact that different organizations define participation in different ways, there are certain similar features that emerge. Employee satisfaction with their work and pride in their employer, the extent to which people like and believe in what they do for a living, and the notion that their employer values what they bring to the table are among the themes explored. The higher an employee’s level of involvement, the more likely he or she is to “go the extra mile” and perform admirably on the job.
Employees that are engaged are also more inclined to commit to staying with their current company. For example, software company Intuit2 discovered that highly engaged employees are 1.3 times more likely than less involved employees to be high performers. They are also five times less likely to depart the company on their own volition.
Clearly, employee involvement and commitment can lead to positive business outcomes for a company. This workshop contains principles for understanding and evaluating employee engagement, as well as creating and implementing effective engagement initiatives, to help you realize the rewards of an engaged, committed staff at your company. Human resource activities such as recruitment, training, performance management, and workforce surveys, as you shall see, may be effective levers for increasing employee engagement.
Employee Engagement: Key Ingredients
“Employee Engagement Defined” illustrates various organizations and consultancies’ engagement definitions. Employee involvement is clearly defined differently in different firms. Many executives are perplexed as to how such a nebulous term can be quantified. Researchers have developed measurement methodologies for a number of components under this umbrella term. The degree to which employees are fully immersed in their work, as well as the level of their devotion to the employer and role, are among these ingredients. Fortunately, there is a lot of research on these aspects of participation, including work from individual and group psychology. Some of these studies are highlighted in the sections that follow.
• Stay – They have a strong desire to be a member of the organization, and they remain loyal to it.
• Say – They promote the company by suggesting potential employees and customers, are friendly to co-workers, and offer constructive criticism.
• Strive – They put forth extra effort and engage in habits that help the company succeed.
Occupying the Job
To study the degrees to which people “occupy” employment positions, psychologist William Kahn drew on studies of labor roles and organizational socialization. To symbolize two endpoints of a continuum, he coined the words “personal engagement” and “personal disengagement.” Individuals fully occupy themselves— physically, intellectually, and emotionally—in their professional function at the “personal engagement” end. They uncouple themselves and withdraw from the job during the “personal disengagement” stage. How do people get emotionally invested in their work? Why are they more involved in some things than others? Based on their research into the psychology of commitment, academics have proposed answers to these concerns.
10 Common Themes: How Companies Measure Engagement
Employers commonly use company-wide attitude or opinion polls to gauge employee engagement. A review of the criteria included in such instruments finds ten similar engagement themes:
• Employer takes pride in his work.
• Employer satisfaction is high.
• Job fulfilment.
• Possibility of excelling at difficult tasks.
• Positive feedback and acknowledgement for one’s contributions.
• Personal assistance from one’s boss.
• Go above and beyond the call of duty.
• Understanding the relationship between one’s employment and the mission of the company.
• Possibilities for future advancement with one’s employer.
• Willingness to stay with one’s current employer
Because of linkage research, which links survey responses to bottom-line financial outcomes, this broad range of concepts has been dubbed “employee engagement.”
The Relationship Between Employer Behavior and Employee Engagement
How does a motivated staff produce tangible business results for a company? Employer practices such as job and task design, recruitment, selection, training, compensation, performance management, and career development are all part of the process. Employee engagement and job performance are both affected by such tactics. Subsequently, performance and engagement combine to achieve business outcomes. These connections are depicted in Figure 1.
Your company’s human resource processes must be improved in order to engage employees and reap the benefits of that engagement. However, like with any investment, you must assess the potential return—that is, you must commit resources to the HR practices that you believe will provide “the biggest bang” for your investment “buck.” You must consider how much participation and commitment your organization requires, as well as the cost. We’ll look at how employer practices affect employee engagement and commitment, as well as how to control these “levers” to influence engagement, commitment, or both, in the sections below.
Figure 2 depicts a simplified work performance model to illustrate how employer policies affect job performance and engagement.
A person has traits such as knowledge, skills, abilities, temperament, attitudes, and personality, as seen in Figure 2. He or she employs these characteristics to carry out work behaviors in accordance with organizational processes, utilizing tools, equipment, and/or technology. Workplace habits, in turn, provide the goods and services that make a company successful. Work behaviors are divided into three categories: those required to complete duties and tasks outlined in a job description (prescribed behaviors), “extra” behaviors that an employee contributes for the good of the company (voluntary behaviors), and behaviors that an employer prohibits (proscribed behaviors, including unexcused absenteeism, stealing and other counterproductive or illegal actions). Of course, job performance is influenced by organizational factors such as leadership, physical setting, and social setting.
Employers understandably want to encourage employees to engage in regulated and voluntary activities while avoiding those that are prohibited. Organizations utilize a variety of HR approaches to achieve these goals, which have a direct impact on the person, process, and context components of job performance. Employees’ levels of engagement and commitment are determined by their reactions to these techniques. Following that, we take a closer look at a few of these practices.
Designing Jobs and Tasks
The nature of work and employment has developed through a succession of stages during the last 250 years. Craftspeople and workers were initially employed on farms and in workshops. Then came cottage industries, where suppliers put together items and products for enterprises that sold them. People later worked for businesses in more established employment agreements. And today’s workplace is defined by flat, agile firms that outsource worldwide production of goods and services.
Similarly, the nature of work and task design has changed over time. Many American corporations, for example, embraced the “scientific management” approach to work design with the introduction of mass manufacturing in the early twentieth century. Companies simplified duties so that they could be completed by highly specialized, narrowly trained people thanks to scientific management. Although this system increased efficiency, it came at a price: Workers were dissatisfied with their work, were frequently absent, and quit employers in pursuit of more meaningful employment because they were uncomfortable with repetitive, machine-paced tasks that provided little personal control or autonomy. Fitting employment to efficient production methods, in other words, alienated employees and weakened their dedication.
Workers’ unfavorable reactions to job design in early twentieth-century America prompted organizational scientists to dig further into the human side of work. Several ideas of job satisfaction and motivation relating to job design had arisen by the 1950s, including the positive impacts of job expansion (expanding the scope of job responsibilities) and job enrichment (providing more complex and challenging tasks).
The impact of job design on worker motivation and productivity grew in popularity after the release of the job characteristics model in the early 1970s. This concept provided five “core” or motivational job characteristics: skill variety, task identity, task significance (all of which contribute to a sense of work meaning), autonomy, and feedback on performance. Internal motivation, personal accountability for performance, and job satisfaction—in other words, engagement—are all promoted by jobs that share these traits. Because management scientists have come to accept the job characteristics model, there have been very few studies of work design and motivation published in recent years.
Researchers began focusing at the social elements of work, such as interdependence of job duties, feedback from others, and opportunities to obtain guidance and help from co-workers, as employers increased the breadth of employee tasks in flatter organizations with less management oversight. Social qualities have a major influence on both employee engagement and commitment, according to work-design research.
Furthermore, academics have just lately begun to look into the relationship between job enrichment and proactive work behaviors—those self-initiated “additional” contributions mentioned in many engagement definitions. Managers who give enriched work (jobs with a high level of significance, variety, autonomy, and co-worker trust) drive employee engagement and passion, according to the findings.
Employees are more likely to define their work roles widely as a result of their involvement and excitement. Workers are more willing to take on issues that are outside of their immediate responsibilities when job functions are defined broadly. These challenges motivate people to think outside the box and solve problems before they become a problem. As a result, job enrichment encourages participation in both required and voluntary work activities.
Although preliminary, these studies provide useful insight into how your company might design work to encourage employee engagement and dedication. The important takeaways from this study are shown in Figure 3.
The messaging your company sends out when it’s looking for new employees might have an impact on future employee engagement and commitment. If your company has created jobs that are expressly designed to engage employees, make sure that your recruiting advertising highlight the positions’ appealing aspects, such as challenging work assignments, a highly skilled team atmosphere, or less monitoring. These characteristics are more likely to motivate applicants who notice and respond to these adverts.
Consider how you can find the top applicants from within your company. When you recruit current employees for attractive tasks, you increase their engagement and commitment (by maximizing the person-job match) (by providing growth and advancement opportunities to employees in return for their loyalty). When you hire from the outside when good internal candidates are available, you may unintentionally send the message to present employees that your organization does not value their loyalty. Existing employees may then begin to doubt their own dedication to your company.
You, on the other hand, hire external applicants for both the position and your company. Recruiting messaging for these applicants should emphasize appealing job aspects, corporate ideals, and commitment reciprocity. That is, in exchange for your hard work and dedication, your firm provides competitive salary and benefits, flexible work hours, and possibilities for development and advancement.
Also keep in mind that prospective employees have various obligations, and you’ll have to compete with those commitments in order to attract applicants to your company. When a new co