The Four E's of Employee Engagement
I started my career stint in 2008, faced the carnage in 2009, crawled through the freeze in 2010, witnessed some level of stability in 2011 and am finally seeing some light at the end of this dark tunnel in 2012! Economies around the globe have experienced a whirlwind in these times of uncertainty; and tried to come-up with plans to manage all this change. The graph of employee morale also scaled the twists and turns of this tumultuous challenge posed by the recession. Reduction in workforce not only added to the work per employee; it also added to job insecurity and instability.
The most recent figure of unemployment rate quoted by the Ministry of Labor & Employment, Government of India; is at 3.8%; as of January 2012. It is a noticeable drop from the 9.4% figure which came from the same source in the end of 2009. The two main reasons for this sharp decline have to be more jobs and more stability at the workplace. As I dug up more numbers to connect these dots to what’s happening at the cubicle level; I came across this interesting report on attrition that was released by MyHiringClub.com in mid-2012. The report provided insights into the consistent waning of attrition rates across various industries over the last five years. Probably, the light I see at the end of the tunnel then is actually light, and not a glow-worm blinking innocently!
Considering my trysts with destiny through this time-period; and after having seen so much of data on the issue of displacement at companies, I could clearly see what an individual seeks when s/he decides to remain employed with a firm for good. This is when I came up with the four major E’s that cater to interests of an employee:
• Evolvement – The road ahead is the most important factor that one considers when s/he takes the call of working with a firm. And this is not just from a financial perspective. Rather, it is answering ‘what next’ which is always the trickier proposition, since one is unlikely to stick to the plan because it is evolving at every stage of one’s career. Evidently so, most big companies today have a clear-cut career path framework mapped for each role in the company. The developmental goals are the prime source of engagement and retention for most employees today and very often, employees also bank on their managers/leaders to help pave a sound career path for them.
• Encouragement – In an HBR survey, for a question asking the employees to name the skill they thought was most important for their boss to demonstrate, the top response was "Inspire and motivate others." A visionary who pushes you to achieve more and values perseverance is who employees look up to. As an extension, the work culture at such companies offers a comfort zone for flow of ideas and thoughts and harbors frontiers for innovation. Thus, creative expression and value of freedom to try something new or sharing perspective easily rank high on employee engagement scorecards.
• Empowerment – The ability to trust and accord accountability to an employee by the employer has a double impact. It restores faith in judgement and garners mutual respect between the employer and the employee. The Aon-Hewitt Best Employer Asia-Pacific 2011 Study provides a definite result elucidating that accountability and trust are the foundation-bricks for consistently engaging staff and achieving higher performance.
• Endorsement – Employees value employers who are true to their words. Transparency and honesty are aspects that strengthen all relationships; and the same goes for the employer-employee saga. Vineet Nayar of HCL, created the ‘Employees First, Customers Second’ management philosophy which resulted in some phenomenal numbers from a profitability standpoint as well as increasing the average tenure of personnel at the company. It was not a new concept but only implemented with utmost clarity of thought and articulated with a clear focus on keeping all employees in the loop.
Even though most employers still feel compensation is the only driving factor for engaging true talent, there are other factors like above that amalgamate and lead to broadening of horizons when it is time to decide. To be or not to be, as it is said, will always be a question. The answer lies in finding a path that is a mesh of one’s interest and personal developmental goals along with some aligning factors of the organization one is associated with. Achieving this feat is not easy but corporates today are finally realizing the goldmine that their people are. Hence, believe it or not – the workplace for today’s employee is a fool’s paradise no more!