Article (December-2016)


Employee engagement: The connectivity


Designation : -   Consultant & HR Trainer

Organization : -  


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Based on the several news reports, in the current quarter, there has been a mix of expansion and contraction in workforce and reshuffling in the sectors of manufacturing and information technology. The major reasons cited are a delay in signing project agreements and cancellation, as well. 

This has resulted in either a shift in recruitment or downsizing or a slide in employee engagement due to fear factors. When entire focus of organisation is on engagement program, which specialised team is there to care for the 'HeRoes' offering support services in the resourcing department? Well, the human resource team is the much forgotten one. The HR team slogs every hour of the day to keep up the spirit but just because they are paid fancy packages does not mean they are properly engaged. Often, in the process of employee engagement and trade union activities, HR is a standalone community to defend itself. 

Often we depend on various survey reports that dash the table from across continents. How genuine is it when a report based statistics is from the localised participants and respondents, with whom we may differ in working pattern and industry standard? It is needless to say that every organisation has a specific trend and pattern in exhibiting the employees' values, wellness, training and development, business strategies and behaviour. Rather going by the written down methods of employee engagement, why a robust innovative approach not be followed than copying from elsewhere?

I am of the view that employee engagement process is a misfit when differently applied across the various levels of management and employee grade within the same organisation. It does not mean that line and staff men should have different reasons for job dissatisfaction. They have same human ideologies irrespective of their title and grade. Often the metrics differ with generations and industries. It is time to dust the practices and throw out the fictitious theories and comparisons.The videshikatha picture no more fitsinto our customised menu. 

There are many employees who never mind if their prospective jump lands them a job with the title of Senior Donkey or Junior Elephant or a title that may not fit into job family of previous assignment role, as long as the pay compensation is not read between lines. All is well till the incumbent finds out that the company culture is not aligned with his values, not claiming growth opportunities and development programs. 

Clubbing of additional duties and multiple responsibilities within a domain or across two domains for a job title and expecting high output is a mockery. While conserving the pay pack is on prime focus, the sub-standard quality in execution of work is often unchecked. A wellness officer is required to monitor the mental, work-life and manager-subordinate relationship. I am unsure if the employee engagement team that are deployed in all organisations have a certification in human psychology and labour management, to handle the above said points. All that is focussed in India is the staff welfare need and nothing beyond in actual essence.


The symptoms of employee disengagement are disappointments, lack of interest, work pressure, mental tension, fear factor about growth, diffused team spirit, distraction from multi-tasking, not taking initiatives, and disinterest for learning. While recognition, appreciation, motivation, compensation, rewards, training, career development and accomplishment are some essential factors found to be the drivers of employee engagement. So, it is the degree to which employees are psychologically invested in the organisation and motivated to contribute success. Employees differ in rating on dissatisfaction scale.

It is a universal truth that employee engagement program has not worked out well in the live session and new ways are being probed. I would say it is a futile work and waste of time on improvising methods on employee engagement. All psychometric parameters of employees are never the same at all times of ups and downs. When the psychic aspects of the employee initially welcomed and accepted the new pay, title, and turf; how come the degree of engagement differs within few months or years of completing service? His honeymoon period ends up in despair and separation. It is a sick attitude that every senior employee invariably sees him at the receiving end of motivation and not the source of engagement. On a wider canvas, the respondents of the employee engagement survey are one sided with biased perception. The chain is well explained in the following illustration.


It is very true that every time the head of the team reflects his personal level of satisfaction in the process of employee engagement of his members. A weak chain link disrupts the process and ruptures the motive. With Bell curve of PMS proving flop and meaningless, many organisations view it redundant to groom middle management for leadership. This results in the lack of readiness and competency grooming for leadership front. It is a point where self-interest and shared interest meet in unison. Else, the negative impact is felt in Business Score Card. With global presence felt across industries, all measures that are followed abroad may not yield proper result here. We need a much more customised and innovative design to tackle the application and measure of engagement.

Even after 50 years from now, the degree of employee engagement will remain an unanswered area of attrition. Theory and practical will seldom meet the purpose of research as the level of engagement purely depends on the psychic, financial and strategic condition of an employee at that moment in his career. Though the world is moving into a new energetic era, 'engaging people' is a tough task to understand and practise in real time.