Employee engagement has become a vital trending topic in the last few years among both profit and non-profit organizations. As a proof, in Delotte Consulting's most recent survey addressed to human resource professionals, this topic is ranked second on the top urgent trends.
The insight to employee engagement itself still varies, despite ongoing discussion and research. A diversity of understandings to employee engagement originated from varied definitions, frameworks, to impacts on performance. It is imperative that we substantiate holistic comprehension of this topic, which would help us come up with or at least choose the most optimal framework. Thus its impact on performance is likely to increase.
There are many definitions of employee engagement. Some that will be used and quoted are:
Occasional innovative and cooperative behavior beyond the requirements of the role but in the service of organizational objectives (Katz and Kahn, 1966)
The harnessing of organizational members to their work roles, employ and express themselves physically, cognitively and emotionally during role performance (Kahn, 1990)
The state in which individually are emotionally and intellectually committed to the organization (Hewitt, 2004)
The condition which is characterized by energy, involvement and efficacy (Maslach et al, 2001).
Some of the definitions may still seem too broad and unspecific. There are, however, some dimensions that can be brought to light to grasp employee engagement:
- Its correlation with attitude and behavior.
- Its correlation with affection and cognition.
- Its correlation with work or role (job engagement) and organization (organizational engagement).
From the three aforementioned points, it seems that the third forms a significance in terms of comprehending and managing employee engagement
Correlation With Work
Have you ever encountered people exceptionally committed to their job, to producing excellent output, and to continuous improvement of their work process and result? As if they immerse and dedicate their life to work, never look exhausted, always are full of enthusiasm and never complain about work? The conversations extended in their daily life are always wrapped around their work and how to be better at it. Time passes just thinking and talking about work. These are early indicators that they have engagement with their work, although not necessarily with their organization.
Employee engagement is likely to occur in the work or role at hand, and not the organization. This work or job engagement represents a situation where one has the need to produce satisfying results in one’s work as an internal reward or self-gratification (may et al, 2004).
There are three states of job engagement (Schaufeli, 2004):
- Absorption is a situation where one is being fully engrossed in one’s work, thus time passes quickly and one has difficulties with detaching oneself from work.
- Dedication is a situation where one is being deeply involved, followed by a sense of enthusiasm, significance, inspiration and pride.
- Vigor is a situation where energy and resilience are highly evident. And so are investing effort in one’s work, persistence and determination to overcome difficulties
Correlation with Organization
Despite the fact that organizational citizenship beha-viors such as helpfulness at work, punctuality, effective time management and thoughtful coordination with other departments are part of the realization of organizational engagement, it doesn’t mean that the organizational citizenship behaviors always indicate the presence of organizational engagement. While organizational engagement will incur organizational citizenship behaviors, it may not necessarily be the other way around (Robinson, et al 2004)
Organizational engagement can be reflected by three main observable behaviors, which are SAY, STAy, STRIVE (Hewitt, 2004). Those who are engage with their organization in general will consistently say positive things about their organization (SAY), whether within their inner social circle or outer circle such as customers or potential employees. Statuses and comments on social media are effective mediums to identify this.
They are also eager to stay with their organization (STAY), regardless other opportunities presented out there. They choose to stay not because there aren’t any options or offers, not because there isn’t or hasn’t the courage to take risk, not because they are stuck, not because they are indebted, but just because they are “deeply in love” with their organization, because they find harmony between the organization and their values and life purpose.
And in turn they will strive (STRIVE) for the sustainability and progression of the organization by supplying energy, positive effort and contribution to the organization.
Thereby, organizational engagement is an intellectual and emotional commitment towards organization, out-weighing the individual. Those who possess this will devote everything; time, thoughts and energy to the organization. Daily conversations occurring will not be about one’s work or role, but about the organization. organizational engagement is also characterized by the initiative, activity, responsibility, proactiveness and persistence to develop the organization.
Managing employee engagement
Job engagement doesn’t auto-matically drive one towards organizational engagement, and vice versa. Both appear to be two parallel dimensions that must become a joint effort. organizational engagement alone, with the absence of job engagement, may not be able to enhance organizational performance, and in addition generate positive impacts on the organizational existence. Having clarity of the two dimensions of employee engagement, as discussed above, will help us come up with the framework that manages and undertakes both more effectively. managing employee engagement, both at job and organizational level, is based on the social exchange theory. Such a perspective views employee engagement as a form of action and reaction. organization acts and employee reacts. The underlying assumption used here is that when employees received something from their company or organization, then they will develop a sense of obligation to give higher level of engagement in return (Saks, 2006).
That is why the most of the talks and discussions about employee engagement are concentrated on what action that a company should undertake towards their employees. That is also the reason why most tools for measuring employee engagement normally focus more on the action, instead of the measurement of the employee engagement itself. Action is deemed critical because it is the antecedent of employee engagement. Thus planning the actions and foreseeing the reactions are integral part of managing employee engagement.
To avoid sporadic actions, we need to have an overview of the significant factors that establish the engagement. According to research, there are three essential factors that will forge job engagement: a sense of meaningfulness, a feeling of safety, and resource availability.
Job enrichment and role suitability are two main factors that build a sense of meaningfulness. The job characteristics play an important role, but the role of the leader or direct supervisoralso play a significant portion in facilitating employees’ pursuit of meaningfulness in their job. In reality, no particular job is entitled to a certain meaning or value, because typically one same job may mean different things to two different individuals.
Building a positive workplace environment and support from the executive are key factors in developing a feeling of safety (Kahn, 1990) which also contributes to job engagement. Support given in the form of provision of required resources in order to finish the job or improve work quality is also one of the considerable factors.
The perceived organizational support, apart from building job engagement, turns out to be contributing to organizational engagement as well. meanwhile, system and procedure that echo fairness also become a relatively significant factor in building organizational engagement (Saks, 2006).
“There Are Three Essential Factors That Will Forge Job Engagement: A Sense ofMeaningfulness, A Feeling of Safety, And Resource Availability”
Overall, although the actions that we have discussed provide great chance to build employee engagement, both at job and organizational level, we still need to be aware of the fact that each individual is unique. Reactions generated from the same action may differ from one to another. personality, locus of control, and personal values may have been some moderate factors that incur different reactions. That is why managing employee engagement is deemed to be an organizational act, however personal and particularly unique in nature. It is not surprising that the role of direct supervisor plays a massive portion in building employee engagement. The task of building employee engagement is not a managerial one, but a leadership one.
If we wish to to build employee engagement, then the starting point for us is to produce and develop leaders at all organizational levels. Without this, any organization will be having difficulty in building employee engagement, for either work or organization.
Deddi Tedjakumara, has considerable expertise and interest in business and strategic planning, not for profit management and social business. Now he serves as the Executive Director of Prasetiya Mulya Executive learning Institute.